Sepaton Adds De-dupe To VTLs

Sepaton, an early developer of VTLs whose name is "no tapes" spelled backwards, on Tuesday is slated to introduce the S2100-ES2 DeltaStor Series 500 VTL with de-dupe capability for enterprises, said Linda Mentzer, vice president of marketing for the Marlborough, Mass.-based vendor.

The ES2 scales from 56 Tbytes to 2 petabytes in physical capacity, or up to 50 petabytes compressed, Mentzer said. It can have up to 16 4-Gbit Fibre Channel ports with a maximum performance of 4,800 Mbytes per second, she said. It de-dupes data outside the primary data path with a compression ratio of up to 50:1.

Also new is the S2100-DS2 de-duplication appliance. The DS2 comes with 7 Tbytes of physical storage that can protect up to 200 Tbytes of data after it is de-duplicated, and it can back up and restore data at up to 300 Mbytes per second, Mentzer said. It fits in a 3U rack space.

Data de-duplication, also called "data de-dupe," removes duplicate information as data is backed up or archived. It can be done on the file level, where duplicate files are replaced with a marker pointing to one copy of the file, or at the subfile level or byte level, where duplicate bytes of data are removed, significantly decreasing storage capacity requirements.

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Virtual tape libraries, or VTLs, are disk arrays configured to look to the host server and the backup software as if they are physical tape libraries. Data is streamed to and recovered from the VTL as if it were tape, so no changes are needed to the backup process. However, because they use hard drives, the backup and recover speed is much higher than when using tape drives. Data backed up to a VTL can also be backed up to a physical tape for archiving or off-site storage.

De-dupe is the feature that will finally make it possible for disk-based backup devices to be priced lower than tape, said Mike Adams, storage practice leader at Lighthouse Technologies, a Lincoln, R.I.-based solution provider.

"Without de-dupe, disk is not cheaper than tape," Adams said. "But with de-dupe together with disk-based backups, you can make a compelling case. If you get 20:1 or 30:1 compression, which is a realistic number, you can make the case. It won't eliminate tape but will start displacing it."

For instance, Adams said, a customer who tries to replace 100 Tbytes worth of tape with the same capacity of hard drive storage, the latter would be too expensive. "Instead, offer a lower-end VTL that has capacity of 5 Tbytes to 7 Tbytes, but with de-dupe can store about 100 Tbytes," he said. "That's where I'm going to make a run at this business."

Dan Chartier, DeltaStor program manager at Sepaton, said his company's de-dupe technology is optimized for restores.

Other de-dupe products hash the de-dupes in-line and do backward regression, which means that a new copy of data points to previous versions for data that has been taken out to save space, Chartier said.

"That means the most recent copy of the data is the most fragmented," he said. "We do forward-regression so that one copy of the data points to the next version, so it is easier to move forward to the most recent version. Because we work out-of-band, we can point to whatever version you want."

Sepaton's sales are split about evenly between direct and indirect channels, Mentzer said. The company also has an OEM deal with Hewlett-Packard.

"We're looking to increase our channel business this year," she said. "We want to scale the business and can do it faster with partners than by hiring direct-sales people. The DS2 is especially channel-friendly because it's self-contained and not difficult to configure."

The new storage devices are available now. The S2100-ES2 Series 500 tape library has a starting list price of $59,000, and the S2100-DST VTL starts at under $18,000.