FalconStor Leverages Backup Software

VTL Hardware expands storage options, but product's interface is quirky.

FalconStor Software Inc.s FalconStor Virtual Tape Library appliance allows IT managers to implement disk-based backup while leveraging the investments they have already made in backup software. Simply put, the FalconStor VTL appliance takes RAID and JBOD (just a bunch of disks) storage arrays and presents them to servers as virtual tape libraries.

The emergence of inexpensive ATA hard-drive-based storage units means that IT administrators can invest in disk-based backup without breaking the bank. The FalconStor VTL appliance, which shipped last month, is available in IP and Fibre Channel editions.

The IP Edition, which we tested, is priced at $15,900, and the Fibre Channel Edition lists for $29,900. It is important for IT departments to figure out their servers daily backup workloads before deciding which version to implement.

The FalconStor VTL appliance is aimed at IT shops that must perform quick backups and data restorations. FalconStor VTL enables IT managers to use whatever storage/software combination they want, which makes it more flexible than other solutions.

The FalconStor VTL appliance relies on FalconStors IPStor virtualization technology to manage disks and present them to servers, but it doesnt force IT managers to use virtualization on all of their storage.

FalconStor VTL

The FalconStor VTL appliance harnesses virtualization technology to make hard-drive-based storage look like tape libraries for servers. FalconStor VTL allows IT managers to keep using the backup systems they have in place, but because it is hard-drive-based, it provides better data accessibility and backup speeds than typical tape-based backup. Prices start at $15,000.
















  • PRO: Leverages pre-existing backup investments; provides IP and Fibre Channel connectivity.
  • CON:Tape management interface isnt as intuitive as some competitors.

• Alacritus Softwares Securitus • NovaStor Corp.s NovaStor Virtual Tape

The functionality of the FalconStor VTL appliance is similar to that of Alacritus Software Inc.s Securitus virtual tape library software, which is sold only to OEMs.

The FalconStor appliances virtual tape library interface is not as intuitive as Securitus management interface, but in tests, we didnt have many problems learning and using it.

A unique benefit of the FalconStor VTL appliance is that it can connect to servers using either Fibre Channel or IP storage area networks. For performance reasons, we recommend that IT managers use Fibre Channel connectivity in larger servers and use IP to back up smaller, inexpensive servers.

In tests, the FalconStor VTL appliance was able to virtualize a standard Fibre Channel JBOD array into a tape library, which we then used to run backup jobs using Computer Associates International Inc.s BrightStor ARCserve Backup software.

As the hard drives on a disk backup unit get filled, the appliance can transform the virtual tapes into real ones (with the appliance writing its data to a tape drive while re-creating the media management information). This is important because most companies have off-site storage requirements.

The FalconStor VTL appliance can be used in conjunction with other FalconStor products, such as the companys IPStor Replication solution. IT managers can have a local FalconStor VTL appliance that handles backups and restorations and that replicates backup data over a WAN to an off-site destination with tape libraries.

Using this type of backup strategy—instead of having local tape libraries at every site—IT administrators can eliminate the need for shipping tape media to their disaster recovery operations.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.