Virtual Tape Systems to Get More Capacity

StorageTek, CA and IBM pump up their mainframe virtual tape systems with added capacity and performance.

Storage Technology Corp., Computer Associates International Inc. and IBM are each pumping up their mainframe virtual tape systems with added capacity and performance.

The technology makes disk arrays appear as tape drives to mainframes. Disks are also much faster than tape for backups, and they speed up legacy applications that use tapes for batch processing.

With StorageTeks new VSM (Virtual Storage Manager) 4.0, users will get 256 virtual tape drives, 15 physical drive connections, 512 logical paths and 300,000 virtual tape volumes, well above what VSM 3.0 offers. Users will also get 32 Enterprise Systems Connections, which is twice the prior version; new native Fibre Connect; and a simpler Web interface, said officials in Louisville, Colo.

VSM 4.0 uses StorageTeks V2X disk array as its base, while 3.0 used the older SVA9500 system, said Steve Bendermann, chief architect. "We remove the disk personality and give it a tape personality," Bendermann said.

Disaster recovery features will be added when the Virtual Tape Control System 4.1 software is upgraded to 5.0 in the fall. VSM 4.0 will launch July 7 and ship immediately. An average system costs $400,000 to $500,000.

For its part, CA in July will release Service Pack 4 for its BrightStor Vtape 2.0 software, said officials in Islandia, N.Y. Unlike the StorageTek products, BrightStor Vtape is a software-only system and is hardware-agnostic. Its new features include parallel processing of up to eight virtual tape control units, up to 256KB of buffer block sizes, the ability to conduct analysis reporting of virtual tape mounts and reporting of volume serial numbers based on logical partitioning technology, officials said. The upgrade is a free download for current users.

"Were trying to get to a point where we can put everything on virtual. We want to eliminate all the manual intervention associated with tape processing," said Michael Friske.

Friske is the project manager of the Multiple Virtual Storage storage management committee of Share, the worldwide IBM user group, and a principal operating systems consultant at FMR Corp.s Fidelity Investments, in Dallas.

With the maturing technology, "I think this next crank of the performance may be getting to the point ... that there may not be a whole lot more they can do," Friske said. As for Fidelitys zSeries mainframes, he added, "We were a little late to the virtual tape game."

IBM itself will announce Virtual Tape Server 7.0 in July, said officials in Somers, N.Y. Advanced Digital Information Corp., of Redmond, Wash.,will launch a combined tape/disk/virtual tape tool by the end of the year, officials said.