Virtual Tape, which puts a large intelligent buffer between tape systems and the large computers they serve, is usually thought of as a way to decrease the cost of tape storage. However, virtual tape can also offer important advantages in disaster recovery.
Virtual tape systems use the buffer to reorganize the data being sent to tape to make better use of the available space on modern, high-capacity tape systems. The result is a savings in media costs and -- generally -- a much larger savings in personnel costs because fewer manual tape mounts and dismounts are required.
The same intelligent buffering can be used to sort out critical data that is to be duplicated off-site at the same time the data is written to tape at the data center. Companies such as E-Mag and OpenTech Systems offer virtual data recovery with their virtual-tape software. In the right context these VDR systems can offer significant advantages in reducing costs and adding security to vaulting disaster recovery solutions.
The main advantage of VDR over dual-copy solutions is that it cuts down the amount of data being copied to the vault. Rather than sending over everything, VDR systems can be instructed to make vault copies of only specific files or data sets. Since critical data is usually a small subset of all enterprise data, this can greatly reduce the hardware and communications costs for vaulting.
Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.
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