LXI Launches Virtual Tape Library, Acquires TD Systems
March 22, 2005 Alex Woodie
With the market for third-party backup and recovery software waning due to the inclusion of BRMS with new OS/400 licenses, LXI faced a decision: try to compete with IBM‘s free product, or branch out into new market opportunities. The Irving, Texas, company chose the latter, and last week at the COMMON conference in Chicago, the company unveiled its new strategy, announced the acquisition of TD Systems‘ assets, and launched a new virtual tape library (VTL).
LXI isn’t necessarily ceding the backup and recovery software market to IBM. It maintains its backup and recovery product for OS/400, MMS, is superior to the BRMS product developed by Oklahoma-based Pinnacle Business Systems and now sold by IBM. But as many companies in the software business have learned over the past few years, it’s difficult to compete with free products.
So LXI did the rational thing when it comes to survival in a difficult market, and expanded its product line to an area of the market that’s growing. In this case, it’s the market for virtual tape libraries, which has generated a lot of interest in the past 12 months, and brought several outside vendors, such as FalconStor and Fujitsu-Siemens, and Neartek, into the OS/400 fold.
LXI’s virtual tape offering is named the LXI3200 VT/L. The black box houses several SCSI or Fibre Channel disk drives that are RAID protected and can hold from 3 TB to 32 TB. The LXI3200 looks like an IBM 3583, or LTO 2, tape drive to the host that it’s connecting to, and it can connect to up to seven hosts simultaneously. LXI will add additional emulations in the future.
Using a virtual tape library tremendously shortens backup times, because disks read information much faster than tape drives. LXI’s VTL, which starts at $25,000 for 3TB, also brings some benefits similar to a storage area network (SAN) because it can connect to up to seven different host platforms, including OS/400, Windows, Linux, Unix, and Tandem. A tape drive connects to the backside to complete the disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) solution, and LXI’s MMS software manages the backup and recovery operations, as well as the movement of tape.
Having its VTL integrated with its MMS software and OS/400 enables LXI to offer something it calls a “synthetic” full system backup. LXI says the synthetic full system backup will dramatically reduce the number of tapes required to backup an iSeries system by only saving objects that have been changed since the most recent backup. “We’ll be able to do things with MMS with this device that vendors who remain totally agnostic cannot do,” Tim Kormos, LXI’s product manager, said last week.
LXI acquired the rights to the LXI3200 VT/L product from TD Systems, a Massachusetts company, which manufactured an array of bridges and routers that virtualized storage management. LXI had been a reseller for TD Systems’ OmniServe products prior to acquiring the company.
As part of the deal announced at COMMON, LXI acquired exclusive rights to manufacture, market, and support all of TD Systems products. The deal includes all copyrights, patents, hardware, and firmware, as well as TD Systems’ customer base. Financial terms of the deal were not announced. LXI has basically acquired all of TD Systems, although the TD Systems name, will remain for three years before it is officially retired, company officials said.
The TD Systems acquisition was brokered by LXI’s new chief operating officer, Miles Bender, who has a record of merger and acquisition activity. Nancy Oliver, CEO of LXI, says the appointment of Bender as COO will help LXI grow its business. “Our appointment of a well-respected, high-level executive with experience in completing 25 mergers and acquisitions will help our organization reach new levels of growth, profitability, and customer service.” LXI announced that Bender joined the company at COMMON.
With the TD Systems acquisition complete, Bender says he sees a potential to acquire additional companies with products or services that are complementary to LXI’s. “We want to stay in the backup neighborhood until we run out of opportunities,” he said last week at COMMON. But “we won’t be afraid to branch out.”
LXI also announced at COMMON the appointment of a new European distributor for its products. LXI Europe SA, as the new business has been named, is based near Brussels, Belgium, and is headed by Francis Thirion and Jacques Min. “LXI is poised for significant growth in Europe, delivering integrated software and hardware solutions,” Thirion said.
Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected since its original publication. The LXI3200 VTL starts at $25,000 for 3TB of storage, not 3GB. [Correction made 3/23/05]