FalconStor Updates Virtual Tape Library Offering
April 26, 2005 Alex Woodie
FalconStor is offering new connectivity options with its VirtualTape Library (VTL), an appliance that enables companies to set up disk-to-disk backups for iSeries and other servers. With FalconStor’s VTL version 3.1, the company has upgraded the device’s firmware to include new emulations of IBM tape drives and libraries for OS/400 servers, as well as new support for StorageTek storage software, Novell SuSE Linux servers, and new 64-bit processors from Intel.
FalconStor’s VTL appliance is designed to help users set up and provision a high-speed disk-to-disk backup system, without changing existing tape backup software and procedures. The VTL–which sits between the server or servers to be backed up and a storage area network (SAN) that provides long-term storage–are powered by one or two Intel processors, can be equipped with up to 4TB of disk for short-term caching, and support Fibre Channel, SCSI, and iSCSI storage protocols.
FalconStor first brought iSeries support to its VTL offering last year (see “FalconStor Offers OS/400 Option with Virtual Tape Library” in the August 24 issue of this newsletter). At that time, the VTL was restricted to emulating an IBM 3490 Magstar tape drive and an IBM 3494 tape library for OS/400 connectivity purposes.
With version 3.1 of FalconStor’s VTL, which the company announced in early April, emulation support for iSeries servers has been expanded to include the IBM 3580 drive and the 3583 library, which are IBM’s LTO Ultrium tape drive and midrange LTO tape library, respectively. FalconStor says supporting the LTO drives and library provides OS/400 shops with more flexibility, because the LTO equipment is more popular among OS/400 shops than the Magstar equipment. The new release also adds support for StorageTeks’ Automated Cartridge System Library Software (ACSLS), SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8.0, and tape library caching.
iSeries shops are expressing some interest in FalconStor’s VTL offering, says Li Lin, the VTL product manager for the Melville, New York, company. “Overall, [iSeries] interest is moderate from North America, with increasing interest from Europe and Asia,” Lin says, adding that FalconStor has partnered with the English IT company ICM Computer Group, which is developing a storage gateway Appliance for the iSeries, called the “the Nexus Storage Gateway,” that’s powered by FalconStor’s IPStor software. The company’s IPStor software forms the basis of FalconStor’s VTL appliances, and the company also sells the Linux- or Solaris-based IPStor software independently of the VTL.
FalconStor’s two versions of its VTL appliance include a standard edition and an enterprise edition. Only the enterprise edition supports software add-ons, such as support for OS/400. The standard edition can support up to 32 concurrent backup or restore sessions, with up to 128 virtual tape drives or 16 virtual tape libraries. The device, which comes in either SCSI or Fibre Channel versions, scales from 128 virtual tape cartridges up to 2,048 virtual tape cartridges. Pricing starts at $15,000.
The enterprise edition supports up to 64 simultaneous backup or restore sessions, with up to 512 virtual tape drives and 4,096 virtual tape cartridges, spread across 64 virtual tape libraries. (These numbers are based on VTL’s running 32-bit Intel processors, which FalconStor is retiring in favor of the new 64-bit processors.) It simultaneously supports both Fibre Channel and SCSI protocols and can connect to eight hosts, through up to four SCSI, iSCSI, and Fibre Channel ports (an additional four target ports, and more, can be added if Fibre Channel is used). Pricing starts at $50,000. Software options (such as OS/400 connectivity) on the enterprise edition start at $5,000.
In addition to VTL 3.1, FalconStor also announced that its IPStor and iSCSI Storage Server software products will now run on the latest “extended memory” x64 processors from Intel, which the company says has enabled it to significantly boost its storage processing power and overall capacity from the 32-bit processors they were previously running on.
As a result of the increase in use of memory that 64-bit computing allows, FalconStor says the X64 processors have quadrupled the number of virtual disks per system supported by IPStor, and it now can support 16,000 virtual disks. The company also says 64-bit support in its iSCSI Storage Server for Windows Storage Server 2003 product has greatly increased the storage throughput of that product, enabling it to “achieve the speed of wire, equivalent to a hardware-based host bus adapter.”