Overland To Unveil Disk-To-Disk Backup Appliance

Overland Storage on Tuesday plans to unveil its first ever hard drive-based appliance for backup and recovery.

The San Diego-based company's planned Reo B2000 backup and recovery acceleration appliance based on technology it received as part its acquisition in late June of Okapi Software.

The B2000 is an easy-to-install appliance using gigabit Ethernet or wireless Ethernet networks to backup and restore several Windows-based servers simultaneously, said John Matze, vice president and CTO of Overland and former CEO and president of Okapi. "It takes the tape out of the backup path," he said.

This does not mean Overland is de-emphasizing tape going forward, Matze said. "We will see a subtle decline in the tape market," he said. "But the main reason for this product is to shut the backup window. Tape is not going away. It's needed for archiving. But the cost of disk is so inexpensive that people are starting to use it for fast backups."

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Using the appliance, customers speed up the backup process by backing up to hard disk instead of tape, said Matze. The B2000, with its gigabit Ethernet connectivity and eight Serial ATA hard drives, can support up to eight server backups simultaneously locally over a LAN or remotely via iSCSI, he said The appliance can also be used behind a backup-specific server running most third-party backup software applications, he said.

The B2000 treats the hard drives as if they were tape drives in order to keep the Windows operating system from treating them like other hard drives, Matze said. "With our software, when the backup is done, it logically ejects the hard drive," he said. "This forces Windows to relinquish the cache so the next server can use the disk. The disk belongs to nobody. [The software keeps] track of who is using it."

Bringing out the appliance was a good move for Overland, said John Thome, vice president of Chi, a Warrensville Heights, Ohio-based solution provider "Overland needs to be in this space," Thome said.

Most new backup solutions are starting to be tiered with a mixture of disk and tape, said Thome. Customers are backing up key parts of their data to disk for fast backups and restores, and then backing that data again to tape without slowing down network performance, he said.

"Now instead of putting in a big tape library, we are beginning to sell smaller libraries with disk-to-disk appliances," Thome said. "All the software vendors support disk-to-disk backups. It's definitely happening."

iSCSI drivers for the Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems are available for download from Microsoft, which does not allow other vendors to ship such drivers, said Matze. However, the B2000 is unique in that it does include iSCSI drivers for Windows NT. This is a result of a previous agreement between Okapi and IBM related to IBM's 200i iSCSI appliance which was recently discontinued, he said.

The B2000 is now available with a price of about $25,000 with 2 Tbytes of capacity, Matze said.

Additional modules which can take the B2000 up to 8 Tbytes of capacity are expected early next month, he said, along with the R2000, which can be used for backups and restores, but which can itself be backed up tape.