VTL vendors target SMBs

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IF YOU NEEDED any further proof of the growing ubiquity of virtual tape libraries (VTLs), look no further than Hewlett-Packard's new StorageWorks Virtual Library System 1002i (VLS1002i), a 1U VTL appliance with a list price of $6,099 that HP began selling through the channel in June.

The VLS1002i, which bears a striking resemblance to Overland Storage's REO 1000, is aimed at the small- to-medium-sized business (SMB) whose "disaster recovery requirements aren't as critical as in the enterprise," says Adam Thew, HP's director of marketing for nearline storage, StorageWorks Division. "Once-a-week offsite removal of tape might be quite adequate," he says. A small VTL inserted into the backup process, meanwhile, can help SMBs meet their daily restore needs between full backups.

Running on an iSCSI-based ProLiant server with 1.5TB of usable RAID 5 capacity, the VLS1002i emulates up to 12 LTO-2 tape drives and 180 cartridges, and comes with a single-server version of HP's StorageWorks Data Protector Express.

HP is offering other new SMB-focused data protection products as well. For $11,300, you can get a new 4U MSL4048 compact tape library with up to four LTO-2 half-height drives or two LTO-3 full-height models, and up to 48 cartridges for up to 19.2TB of native capacity. It also comes with a bar-code reader and four removable magazines for bulk loading tapes. HP is also selling new Ultrium media kits with 14 regular cartridges, a cleaning cartridge and labels.

All told, a company can buy a complete data protection solution, including a VTL appliance, tape library and media, for less than $25,000, says Dianne McAdam, director of enterprise information assurance at The Clipper Group Inc., a technology acquisition consultancy in Wellesley, MA. "It's amazingly inexpensive, and that's very disruptive."

Thus far, tier-one vendors' attempts at entry-level VTLs have been few and far between. EMC's "low-cost" Clariion DL210 disk library, announced this spring, comes with as little as 4TB of usable capacity, but has a starting price of $50,000.

But interest in VTLs in small businesses and in departments of large businesses, is high, says Bob Farkaly, director of product management at Overland Storage. Users may have tried doing backup to disk, but don't like managing another file system. Also, over time, some users report that performance drops off as the disk becomes fragmented, says Farkaly. "If you use VTLs, you avoid all these things."

--Alex Barrett

This was first published in July 2006

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