By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2006-02-27 Print this article Print

Network Appliance made a couple of bold moves last year designed to make the company a player in the lucrative disk-to-disk backup space. Based on the quality and functionality of its new NearStore VTL600, NetApp is well on its way.

The first fruit from NetApps acquisition of Alacritus Software, the VTL600 is a successful blend of Alacritus VTL (virtual tape library) software and NetApps appliance hardware. Another shrewd move made by NetApp last year was the purchase of security appliance specialist Decru, whose products can be easily integrated with the VTL600 to create secure backups.

Read more here about NetApps acquisition of Decru.
eWEEK Labs tests show that the NearStore VTL600, released this month, is a solid backup device that should make NetApp a viable provider of D2D (disk to disk) backup technology. And, with the addition of VTL capabilities, it will be much easier for NetApp to sell into mature enterprise environments that have already invested heavily in their backup infrastructure and procedures over the years.

Indeed, its the seamless nature of VTL technology that has vendors suddenly flooding the market with solutions.

The VTL600, for example, can create and present VTL units that existing backup software packages can easily detect and write backup jobs to. When backup jobs are written, the protected data is segmented into discrete virtual tape cartridges that can be identified and retrieved by the media management software found in backup packages. The virtual tapes and cartridges function in the same way that physical ones do, so IT staffers charged with restoring and backing up data for clients can continue to use the recovery tools with which they are familiar.

As a result, VTL allows IT managers to get the performance and convenience of disk-based backup without having to go through the implementation pain of retraining personnel to use new tools.

Familiar terrain

The VTL600s hardware is identical to that of NetApps popular FAS 3000 midrange appliance and disk shelves.

With a minimum capacity of 4.5TB and an entry price of $114,000, the VTL600 clearly is targeted at large enterprises. The device has a maximum capacity of 54TB, and it can create as many as 256 virtual libraries, 1,500 virtual tape drives and 10,000 virtual cartridges. The VTL600s standard configuration has four disk shelves and can back up data at rates close to 500MB per second.

For shops that need even more storage and performance, theres the NearStore VTL1200, which comes with two head units and can scale to 108TB, 512 virtual libraries and 20,000 virtual cartridges.

Best of breed

To optimize the performance of the VTL600, NetApp chose to run Alacritus specially tuned file system instead of its standard WAFL (Write Anywhere File Layout) file system. The file system NetApp inherited from Alacritus was built specifically to deal with the large sequential read/write requests commonly found in backup environments.

Next Page: Metadata, load balancing and Smart Sizing.


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