NetApp Virtual Tape Libraries Look to Ease Backups

By playing nice with third-party backup software, Network Appliance looks to boost its standing.

Network Appliance is working to broaden its appeal to enterprise customers by rolling out technology and services that pack more data onto backup disks without disrupting existing third-party backup software.

On Feb. 7, NetApp will unveil its new NearStore VTL (virtual tape library), the appliance family that comprises the single-head NearStore VTL600, which can scale up to 4.5TB, and the dual-head VTL1200, which can scale up to 168TB.

The NearStore VTL products are built on NetApp hardware and use the companys Data OnTap software feature and Self-Tuning and Tape Smart Sizing capabilities to help users more easily assess where the most available disk space resides, saving on physical tape media costs by forecasting capacity strains.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about NetApps operating system that lets users get the most from their storage subsystems through the use of virtualization.

The VTL appliances can support backup applications from BakBone Software, CA, CommVault Systems and many other vendors.

A VTL emulates physical tape libraries and can deposit data onto disk drives much more quickly than a tape library can. This makes the technology ideal as a secondary backup tier on the way to tape or as a stand-alone tape library offering.

Industry analysts give NetApp high marks for purchasing and releasing its own VTL product—rather than relying on the OEM route, which EMC has taken by using VTL technology from FalconStor Software.

"VTL is such an easy technology for companies to deploy when they want to add disks but dont want to change [the] backup process," said Carolyn DiCenzo, an analyst with Gartner, in Stamford, Conn. "I would say [NearStore VTL], especially in the midmarket where [organizations] have products like [Veritas] Backup Exec and [CA] Arcserve that dont support disk-based backup, will be important."

Along with the products, NetApp Global Services is launching three new services: VTL Design and Implementation, built for NearStore VTL; Disaster Recovery Design and Implementation; and Backup and Recovery Design and Implementation, said Krishnan Padmanabhan, general manager of NetApps Heterogeneous Data Protection Unit, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

NetApps fledgling VTL technology is derived from the companys acquisition of VTL maker Alacritus last year. The technology is designed to integrate with storage encryption products from Decru--NetApps other major acquisition of 2005.

NetApp also recently released a revamped version of its Decru DataFort E-Series 3.0 firmware product for IP-based NAS (network-attached storage) and SAN (storage area network) environments. The device will add iSCSI to existing CIFS (Common Internet File System) and NFS (Network File System) protocol connectivity onto a single appliance.

DiCenzo said NetApp is taking strides to remake its technology portfolio and move into new product areas.

"With the acquisition of Decru and the release of its VTL products, you see [NetApp] stepping away and adding value on top of OnTap. Its an interesting change for NetApp and one that can dramatically broaden their target base," she said.

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