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Backup hardware

Gold: IBM System Storage TS1120 tape drive model E05
Data breaches played prominently in 2006's headlines, and IBM Corp. has led the charge in responding to this problem by making data security as much a part of the tape process as compression. Its E05 model tape drive includes 256-bit AES encryption, which resides on an application-specific integrated circuit in the drive. IBM's encryption-key management system is especially advanced, and it's being offered with the system free of charge.

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The TS1120 Model E05 makes security as much a part of the tape process as compression, adding hardware-based encryption.

The key management repository, a Java app running on commodity hardware, uses public and private keys; the private key is embedded within the tape cartridge and public keys are available to everyone. If the key management system were to use only the private key, the key would have to be transported the first time users send a tape to a trusted partner, which some experts say could compromise security.

Encryption will ship standard with all new TS1120 drives (starting at $35,000); the encryption option can be added to existing TS1120 drives for $5,000 per drive. This product should appeal to many IBM mainframe shops. "It solves a big mainframe encryption tape problem," says one of our judges. "IBM is one of the first major vendors to embed these capabilities in the drives themselves--you have to give them credit for that."

Silver: Sepaton S2100-ES2 Virtual Tape Appliance
As disk-to-disk backup grows more popular, disk targets are getting smarter. This hardware-based standout is the second version of Sepaton Inc.'s disk-only virtual tape library (VTL). The S2100-ES2 added online replication and rode the wave of data deduplication popularity with the release of Sepaton's DeltaStor software. An encryption option is also available via Sepaton's partnership with NeoScale Systems.

Sepaton's data deduplication approach is interesting. Most dedupe players do reverse referencing, which looks at a new block, compares it to data in the backup repository, and either keeps it or doesn't depending on whether it matches. But forward referencing, which is done only by Sepaton, saves the most recent blocks and then compares them to older data, a process Sepaton says improves restore times because the most recent backup version is kept the freshest.

Sepaton's S2100-ES2 shows how disk backup targets are getting smarter.

Any firm offering a VTL with limited functionality could cease to exist within a few years. To ensure its survival, Sepaton has partnered with nearly every backup vendor and added new features. By making its VTL easier to manage and an essential part of the disk-to-disk backup process, Sepaton and its customers are ahead of the game.

Bronze: Data Domain DDX Array Series
Data Domain Inc. is a perennial medal winner in this category, and the data deduplication pioneer hasn't been standing still--and neither have storage growth and consolidation trends. This fall, the company shipped the mammoth DDX deduplicating array which, fully configured, can pack in 15 petabytes (PB). The new DD560 controller mitigates a common deduplication bugaboo: poor performance. A maximum 16-controller configuration has been benchmarked at up to 6.4TB/hour throughput. The DD560g gateway controller offers the same throughput and capacity supporting external array storage.

The DDX scales from four to 16 controllers, and can support the previous generation of DD400 series and DD500 series controllers. Whatever the configuration, the DDX product can complement all pre-existing Data Domain appliances, acting as a hub for recovery images from up to 320 remote locations. The box also includes the vendor's Data Invulnerability Architecture, which continuously and automatically verifies, detects and protects against data recoverability issues during the initial storage of backup data and throughout its life cycle.

Data Domain's new DD560 controller mitigates a common deduplication bugaboo: poor performance.

As power concerns rise along with storage sprawl, Data Domain has made an effort to produce a "green" product that uses as little as 1.1 watts/TB of power. Several array configurations are also available for fewer than 35 cents/GB, according to the company. Our judges were nearly unanimous in their praise of the DDX, awarding it high scores across the board. "With inline deduplication and heterogeneous support, the economics of this solution are very hard to beat," they gush.

This was first published in February 2007

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