StorServer to Improve Stability of Backup Appliance

Version 5.0 of StorServer will usean embedded version of the Windows 2000 kernel, for improved stability and lower overall costs.

Backup appliance specialist StorServer Inc. is expanding its operating system and tape library partnerships to give users a more integrated system, officials said Tuesday.

The appliances, also called StorServer, bundle a server, tape library or disk storage, and management software in one chassis. Since launching the family in 1997, there are "several hundred" customers, said President John Pearring, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

In September, Version 5.0 will debut using an embedded version of the Windows 2000 kernel, for improved stability and lower overall costs. The current 4.2 versions use standard servers, and that will still be an option, he said.

StorServer chose Windows instead of inexpensive options like Linux because of its third-party compatibility, Pearring said. With the embedded kernel installed in a locked-down mode, its just as stable as Unix, he asserted.

The appliances use storage management software from IBMs Tivoli group, in Austin, Texas, and hold up to about 540GB of data, in starting configurations of $20,900. StorServer will soon upgrade the entry-level Model 1 series as well, replacing its parallel advanced technology architecture drives with serial ATA, he said.

Customers are also getting new technical support for Boulder, Colo.-based Spectra Logic Corp.s tape libraries, which come with StorServers S10000 product series. StorServer as of this week is now an official OEM of Spectra Logic, versus being only a reseller, as before, Pearring said. That reduces the need to contact Spectra Logic for help, he said.

Steve Stelzer, an IT administrator at University of Colorado Health Sciences, said the standard server is stable enough, and he plans to keep it, due to integration with his other Tivoli software and because it has affords him more control than a locked-down kernel would. But he acknowledges the system stability argument. "Maybe if they could strip out some of the stuff thats really not needed to run Tivoli," he said.

Stelzer backs up 400GB nightly, of about 42TB total, all on direct-attached servers. "A lot of the servers I back up are department-owned, so its kind of hard to run a SAN in that environment," he noted. As for the new support options, Stelzer doesnt have Spectra Logic libraries, but "I could see that being an advantage because its all in one package deal and they know how it all works," he said.

Separately, Spectra Logic will have a corporate relaunch in September, with a new flagship product called the Python T950 library, officials said.