GST Speeds Backups with New Virtual Tape Library
June 14, 2005 Alex Woodie
GST entered the booming market for virtual tape libraries last week when it launched its new line of disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) appliances. Dubbed the VirtualDR line, this device combines an array of inexpensive disk with a high-performance tape autoloader, and is aimed at small to medium size businesses that need to backup between 2TB to 130TB of data residing across OS/400, Unix, Linux, and Windows servers.
Evidence suggests that IT shops are embracing virtual tape libraries, D2D2T appliances, and the concept of hierarchical storage management (HSM) to satisfy their need for faster backups, quicker recoveries, and reliable archiving. Because even the slowest disk can read and write data much faster than even the quickest tape drives, and aren’t exposed to the daily wear and tear that removable media is subjected to, VTL helps organizations add speed and reliability on the front end, while preserving their investment in tape technology for long-term storage and archiving on the back end.
GST, which has a strong storage pedigree on the IBM midrange server, is now addressing this emerging market with its VirtualDR line of network attached storage (NAS) devices. This all-in-one appliance is equipped with six 400GB Serial ATA (SATA) disks, providing 2.4TB of nearline storage capacity, or 6.3TB if compression is used. To the servers being backed up, the disks in the VirtualDR appliance appear to be an IBM 3583 device, which is Big Blue’s midrange LTO library.
Once the server or servers have been backed up, the user has the option of keeping that data on the disk, where it can be quickly retrieved, or moving it to tape (via Fibre Channel) for long-term storage and archiving. The VirtualDR includes a GST software product called LPAReplication that handles the movement of data from the disk to the tape. GST recommends that customers schedule data to be moved to tape during offpeak hours, to minimize impact on workers and equipment.
GST gives its customers the option of using an LTO-2, LTO-3, or Super AIT tape autoloader in the VirtualDR device. There are trade-offs for picking LTO-3, the latest high-performance open tape spec, or SAIT, which is a proprietary tape format developed by Sony. The LTO-3 drives are faster, with a maximum native throughput of 80 MB per second (160 MB per second with compression), but the 10-cartridge LTO-3 autoloader maxes out at 4TB of capacity, or 8TB if using compression. The SAIT1 drives are slower, with a maximum native speed of 30 MB per second (or 78 MB per second with compression), but they offer a native capacity of 5TB of data, or 13TB with compression. In either case, the VirtualDR device supports write-once, read-many (WORM) capabilities for archival requirements, and comes equipped with a 10-cartridge media magazine.
The VirtualDR appliance is equipped with two Intel Xeon processors running at 3.6GHz, which have access to 2GB of memory (expandable to 16GB). It can be used as a stand-alone device or mounted in an industry-standard rack, where it occupies 4U worth of space.
David Breisacher, CEO and chairman of the Lake Forest, California, company, says the integrated nature of the VirtualDR appliance will resonate with customers. “We put the server, tape, disk, and software all within the same integrated appliance, and included WORM support. This integrated approach will make our VirtualDR family very attractive to our customers,” Breisacher says.
GST business partner Infinite Computer Group, an IBM reseller based in Woodland Hills, California, sees VirtualDR selling well in the iSeries space. “Integrating GST’s unique Virtual Tape Library software will enable GST to deliver one of the first high performance backup and restore solutions for IBM iSeries customers utilizing cost effective disk, without changing their existing backup policies and investments,” said Tom Diaz, a regional manager with the company.
The VirtualDR appliance equipped with SAIT drives costs $32,500, while the LTO-3 model goes for $30,900. For more information, visit www.gstinc.com.