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EMC Crafts 'True' Library For Data Recovery

Tackling the age-old problem of improving back-up and recovery time for stored data, EMC Monday unveiled a disk library that restores data as much as 90 percent faster than traditional tape libraries.

EMC Vice President of Platforms Marketing Chuck Hollis said the storage systems vendor created the Clariion Disk Library to help businesses cope with more stringent time limits on recovering stored data in the wake of compliance regulations. Such a product could be useful because companies continue to create data at an overwhelming pace and volume.

"Disk Libraries are tape libraries built out of disks that bring the benefit of back-up to disk for people that do not want to touch their environment," Hollis told internetnews.com.

While the Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC and other companies have been selling disk-to-disk replications to customers for years, they require a process change. EMC had offered a Clariion ATA disk product last year, but Hollis said customers asked EMC to make a disk system that emulates tape drives so that process changes between, say, Legato and VERITAS systems, weren't necessary.

EMC obliged. Although tape libraries have historically backed up data at a respectable pace, EMC is looking to offer a 30 to 60 percent back-up speed bump over tape systems with the new product, Hollis said.

But more importantly, the Clariion Disk Library recovers data without having to spool through tape incrementally the way tape libraries do, allowing them to restore data 90 percent faster than their tape brethren. For example, the Clariion Disk Library will back up nine gigabytes of data in less than three minutes.

The Clariion Disk Library is primed for enterprises who need to corral 50 terabytes of data or greater and gives customers the option to consolidate several tape libraries into one disk library. The new EMC product, available April 12, pipes data at 80 megabytes per second.

Pricing depends on the configuration of the disk library, which is more expensive than tape libraries of comparable configurations. For example, a 32TB Clariion Disk Library with a two-year maintenance license costs $450,000 compared to similar tape systems from StorageTek or ADIC, which cost between $300,000 and $350,000.

Still, Phil Goodwin, senior program director of infrastructure strategies, said a more appropriate cost comparison would be to measure the disk library's performance versus the cost of downtime, which can be disastrous for any company.

"While tape back-up has traditionally been a best practice, we think of it as more of an archive media than a back-up media," Goodwin told internetnews.com. Moreover, the analyst said he anticipates that 80 percent of Global 2000 businesses will use disk-based back-up and recovery products by 2007.

"Disk libraries are for those who just want to plug-in and go," Hollis said. "We think the category of disk libraries will be a very hot topic this year." Currently, start-ups like Copan and Sepaton offer disk libraries.