Best storage products of 2004


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Backup Hardware


Sepaton's S2100-ES is a highly scalable VTL built around ATA or SATA disks.
Sepaton's S2100-ES VTL
Disk-based backup arrived in 2004, and Southborough, MA-based Sepaton Inc.'s S2100-ES Virtual Tape Library (VTL) appliance led the parade of products that confirmed disk-based backup's role in the data center.

Sepaton's VTL supports both ATA and SATA drives, and emulates almost any LTO, DLT and AIT tape drive. Scalability isn't much of an issue as the S2100-ES uses its own scalable replication engine, which starts at 3.5TB and can grow to 200TB.

Sepaton says its box is capable of 150MB/sec to 900MB/sec transfer rates and can back up 1.6TB per hour. "It is incredibly fast, scalable and uniquely understands what's in the

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backups it is receiving," one judge gushed. "This allows it to create an index of the data and perform synthetic backups, which simplifies recovery by consolidating incremental backups into one complete backup."

Synthetic backups are similar to Tivoli Storage Manager's incremental backups--where only changed data is moved during a full backup. But Sepaton takes this notion a step further. Because the S2100 knows where and what the backups are with its "content-aware architecture," it creates a new volume using pointers instead of recreating the data entirely. This method cuts the time needed for full backups and frees up application servers and the network which, in turn, leads to faster restores.

The S2100 is certified to work with backup software from BakBone Software Inc., CommVault Systems Inc., EMC Corp./Legato, IBM Tivoli and Veritas Software Corp.

The starting price for an S2100 is $58,000. Not chump change but, nevertheless, a bargain when your backup window shrinks an order of magnitude over conventional backup methods. And, yes, all restores are much quicker as well.


NearStore R200 is NetApp's pioneering--and popular--disk backup product.
Network Appliance's NearStore R200
Network Appliance (NetApp) Inc.'s NearStore R200 is the first disk-based backup product that achieved a critical mass with users. Shipped in December 2003, our judges didn't forget it.

"The NearStore R200 allows the user to take advantage of all of the wonderful replication capabilities of Network App's snapshot applications using very low-cost disk. They were one of the first, if not the first, with this technology," said one judge.

The R200 comes with a 14-drive disk shelf with SATA/FC-AL disks and scales from 8TB to 96TB. Prices start at $7.00/GB for a low-end system, but it's flying out of NetApp's door. According to ESG, NetApp shipped nearly 35PB of R200 storage since the product's inception.


Spectra Logic's RXT/T950 deftly blends tape and disk backup in one box.
Spectra Logic's RXT/T950
Imagine a world where removable disk and tape can reside in the same enclosure--and you can take them both on the road, too.

Stop imagining. The RAID eXchangeable TeraPack (RXT) from Spectra Logic Corp., Boulder, CO, does all that and more. Each shoebox-sized RXT can hold up to 12 2.5-inch SATA disks or two 3.5-inch disks, providing up to 960GB per TeraPack enclosure. The packs offer RAID 0, 1 and 5; act like LTO-2; and work with most major backup software products.

If you want to use this at a remote office, just buy a standalone RTX docking station with its portable media. Then when you get back to the main data center, you can plug it into a T950 and reuse the RXT. Or it can be used to transfer data to a server, rack or otherwise.

"Spectra Logic started with a clean sheet of paper and has delivered a pretty innovative solution that combines the benefits of tape [removability, relative low-cost, long-term reliability] with disk [faster access, RAID protection]," said one judge. "And the library supports all major tape drives, tape media and network connectivity types."

This was first published in January 2005

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