RealTime IT News

NetApp's Machines Store Smarter

Network Appliance is set to unveil additions to its storage portfolio that allow customers to corral their data without having to mess with their current infrastructure.

The storage systems vendor Monday will introduce two new disk-to-disk backup storage appliances from its NearStore Virtual Tape Library (VTL) family.

NetApp's VTL machines act like tape libraries but provide more reliability, speed and resilience than their tape brethren at a time when customers are growing weary of broken tape or slow spool times.

Disk-based backup is also a bonus because customers claim backup windows are shrinking, giving them less time to protect their data.

These new systems, NearStore VTL600 and the dual-head NearStore VTL1200, store large capacities of data on disk, automatically copying data to physical tape within any storage environment, including EMC, Hitachi and IBM storage arrays.

Both plug right into disparate storage environments and sync with servers.

NearStore VTL systems scale from 4.5 terabytes to 168 terabytes and integrate with backup application software from industry leaders BakBone, CA, CommVault, HP, Legato, Symantec and Tivoli.

At first blush, the systems might seem like another couple of VTLs, albeit more powerful than machines from competitors like Falconstor, IBM and EMC. But two distinct features put that notion to rest, NetApp officials claim.

Krish Padmanabhan, general manager of NetApp's heterogeneous data-protection business unit, said the VTL600 and VTL1200 come with self-tuning to balance workloads and tape smart sizing features for a 50 percent savings in physical tape versus other VTLs.

Other virtual tape libraries sit at fixed locations, waiting to store data. But regular load balancing does not adjust for data hot spots, which means a storage administrator had to manually tune the machine to adjust for the hot spots.

The new NetApp VTLs can adjust to these hot spots on-the-fly and are assigned to whichever device that gives the highest service level, Padmanabhan said, without having to pay an administrator $100,000 a year to balance loads and tune backup tapes.

Moreover, the tape smart sizing tool in the new VTLs allows customers to predict how data will compress when it reaches the physical tape drive. NearStore VTL samples backup data and adjusts each virtual tape to fit without impacting performance.

"When the data comes into our NearStore VTL, we sample it and figure out how much that data will compress when it eventually goes to the physical tape drive," Padmanabhan said.

The new VTL systems will be pitted against the glut of data in corporations that refuse to stop growing and are an answer to the frequent tape-loss issues.

In related data-protection news, Decru, which NetApp purchased last year, today announced that its latest DataFort E-Series Version 3.0 software supports iSCSI-based storage in addition to networked-attached storage (NAS) .

This means that CIFS, NFS and iSCSI may be stored on a single appliance, bridging the gap between traditional NAS and more modern IP-based storage. This should give customers greater flexibility in adapting to their current infrastructure.

DataFort 3.0, which pipes data at wire speed without impacting data performance, includes greater antivirus support, role-based access controls for administrators and more key management functionality to help customers encrypt and decrypt data.

Also, NetApp Global Services (NGS) will launch three new service offerings geared to protect and serve data: a VTL design and implementation for NearStore VTL machines; disaster recovery design and implementation; and backup and recovery design and implementation.