Article

Vendor pushes disk backup over tape

Kevin Komiega

NEW YORK-- At the RBC Capital Markets SAN Conference this week, another storage vendor made the scene with its own approach toward using disk as a replacement for tape backup.

Alacritus Software Inc. of Livermore, Calif., is attempting to knock tape out of its position as king of the backup media hill with a new product called Securitus.

Securitus, which saw a modicum of success in 2002 through OEM relationships with Hitachi Ltd. and Nissho Electronics, is basically a pile of disks that appears to be a tape library to the network, a feat commonly referred to as tape emulation.

"As lower-cost disk technologies arrive, there is going to be a switch from tape to disk for backup [operations]," said Don Trimmer, Alacritus' co-founder and strategic officer. "Tape prices have declined steadily, but disk drive [prices] have declined more rapidly. This is going to change everything."

Alacritus has another feather in its cap besides its new OEM deals. The company is pursuing another avenue into the backup market through its interoperability partnership with startup switch maker Rhapsody Networks Inc.

Trimmer had no comment about whether there was a larger force at work that prompted the work with Rhapsody.

In the waning days of 2002, storage switch powerhouse Brocade Communications Systems Inc. acquired Rhapsody Networks, which is the current market share leader.

Brocade bought Rhapsody for its virtualization technology and not necessarily

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for its entire switch product line, said Tony Canova, Brocade's chief financial officer, but it doesn't stop there. "Rhapsody puts us in a unique position. By not choosing a particular application and driving it into the network, Rhapsody allows us to position ourselves against the [major] OEMs," Canova said.

When it comes to making a choice for disk over tape in the future, the system integrators seem to agree with the vendors. Don Greier, chief technology officer of Advanced Systems Group Inc., said that Serial ATA disk technology should grow and have the effect of dramatically decreasing the price of disk subsystems.

"Today it is primarily on workstations, and [it] will eventually move into NAS. This will affect the near-line storage business," Greier said. "If [users have the choice of having online disk for] backups, it's going to put pressure on tape."

Tony Orlando, of Strategic Technologies Inc., said that Serial ATA disk should be the secondary storage medium of choice for complementing tape solutions and business continuity strategies. However, he said, cheaper disks will have an impact on -- but will not eliminate -- tape.

The consensus among the experts is that cheap disk subsystems will eventually displace tape drives and media in day-to-day backup operations, relegating tape to the role of archival storage; the bottom rung of the hierarchical storage management (HSM) ladder.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Toigo talks disk vs. tape

Quantum leads disk-based backup initiative

Let us know what you think of this story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

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