Sony Touts Direct-Attach Backup System

Sony Electronics' new LAN-free tape backup system, PetaApp, combines its DTF-2 tape drives and its PetaBack software with a direct SCSI or Fibre Channel connection to tape systems instead of using an IP network.

Sony Electronics Inc. will introduce a new LAN-free tape backup system next week, officials said on Friday.

PetaApp, which will be available immediately, is a combination of Sonys existing Digital Tape Format-2 tape drives and its PetaBack software. By using 24-MB/sec drives and a direct SCSI or Fibre Channel connection to tape systems instead of using an IP network, performance can be enhanced to a theoretical four terabytes an hour, explained Tom Yuhas, general manager and director of Sonys Data System Solutions Group, Business System Solutions.

But the PetaApp system is more than just two current products bundled together, said Yuhas, in Park Ridge, N.J. It also has new software for Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) and Standard Network Management Protocol (SNMP), plus a Linux-based terminal server. Thats all shipped turnkey with users choice of an eight- or 16-port 1-GB/sec switch from Brocade Communications Systems Inc., he said.

PetaApp pricing, with labor included, will start with a roughly 7-terabyte system costing about $235,000. Future versions will likely support Sonys future tape formats and the 2-GB/sec switches from San Jose, Calif.-based Brocade, when theyre available.

"I have not heard from Brocade as to when… but Id expect in the next six months," Yuhas said.

Although the system is expensive and has competition from IBM, Hitachi Ltd.s Hitachi Data Systems division, and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek), its still a solid offering, said Bob Abraham, president of Freeman Reports, in Ojai, Calif. "Its [attached to] high-dollar ticket items anyway, and those kinds of systems require extraordinarily high capacity" backup products.

"Theres very few choices," he said. Sonys strategy of using high-performance and well-established DTF-2 tapes and selling a complete bundle is "certainly a logical way of doing things. To build your own at this level doesnt make a lot of sense," Abraham said.