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Disk-to-disk-to-tape makes inroads

Looking for an effective way to back up remote offices? A disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) set-up might be an interesting way to go. This tip explores the options of D2D2T.

Last month, Certance LLC (formerly Seagate Removable Storage Solutions) announced the launch of the Certance CP 3100 data protection disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) product family. While the CP3100 is targeted at small and mid-sized businesses (with a starting price of less than $1500) its launch may also be symptomatic of how mainstream D2D2T schemes are becoming. Indeed, noted Robert Amatruda, research manager at IDC, "SMBs have many of the same challenges safe guarding data as larger companies."

At the enterprise level, people are doing disk-to-disk because recovery time is more important than cost -- but they do want to have something archival with a vaulting function," says Dennis Martin, an analyst with the Evaluator Group.

So far, enterprises are not flocking to any single solution and certainly nothing approaching the turnkey model offered by Certance. "It's all over the map. Some have a unified single-vendor solution and some, at the other extreme, have gone with a home-grown solution. Turnkey and enterprise don't generally belong in the same sentence," says Martin.

Nearline, originally trademarked by StorageTek for its robotic tape libraries, has become a catch-all term for "cheap" disk, removable optical, and varieties of tape solutions, he notes. Certainly, he says, vendors would like to have a more dominant presence but there is a lot of independence among customers -- an independence that is only matched by their conservatism. "Storage people are risk-averse," says Martin.

Martin adds, the development and deployment of D2D2T is a matter of evolution, not revolution. "All the big vendors have something to offer," he says.

Initial products in the Certance CP 3100 family work seamlessly with Certance DAT 72 and DDS-4 tape drives as well as those from other manufacturers. The company says this capability enables users to create their own D2D2T solution using their existing tape device investment without additional software requirements. The CP 3100 can dynamically configure itself to recognize and emulate the attached tape drive automatically, simplifying installation and configuration. It can also automatically migrate data stored on disk to tape for archiving, without intervention from the host or need for "cloning" software. In addition, the CP 3100 enables remote setup, management and monitoring via any web browser to provide users with peace of mind.

Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner at the Data Mobility Group, who recently authored a report titled, "The Future of Enterprise Tape," says the marriage of disk and tape has not always been a happy one -- often characterized by a vigorous war of words over which medium is "best" for backup.

Of course, notes McAdams, neither side won. With the decreasing cost of disk, disk-based backup is feasible and offers the advantage of much more rapid restore. However, the need -- particularly by mandate -- to retain more and more information for longer periods of time means that a pure disk solution is impractical. Thus, she says, what's needed is a "stratified solution where you back to disk first as an intermediary and then sweep that off to tape."

"We are there now and I don't think we are going back," she adds.

At enterprise level, McAdam notes that there are products with higher performance and capacity than Certance but they don't scale down to meet the needs of remote offices or SMBs.

"Certance has decided that the SMB market needs a turnkey solution that takes 15 minutes to set up, is functional and includes its own backup software -- I couldn't find a lot wrong with it," she says.

"When I first talked to Certance I also asked them about remote enterprise office backups," she says. In fact, says McAdams, a simple plug-and-play solution like what Certance offers seems tailor made for solving the challenge of remote backups for the enterprise. "You might still have a centralized backup at your big data center but if you have ten remote offices you could simply buy ten of these," she adds.

For more information:

Tip: How to do hybrid backup

Integrating disk and tape: SD2003: Integrating disk into backup for faster restores

Advice: Disk and tape on the same HBA? Think again.

  • Alan Earls often writes about things NAS and SAN the "SAN/NAS Update: Trends" column. View the latest
  • About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.

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