Escape From The Tape Trap
December 12, 2016 Dan Burger
IBM i storage strategy remains heavily dependent on tape. Even beyond the IBM midrange, around 75 percent of all data is stored on tape. Old habits die hard, even when alternatives become easier and less expensive to manage. A good example is the Universal Backup Device designed by LaserVault. In its original form, it’s an IBM i backup appliance that appears as a tape device. Now it works in VM environments as well.
The VM integration eliminates the cost of the LaserVault appliance and the cost of an X86 server. That’s roughly $6,000 to $8,000. Instead of requesting a new piece of hardware and putting it in the rack, it becomes a matter of spinning up a virtual machine and adding some disk.
Compared to physical tape, UDB is easier to manage because of the digital file format and drag and drop graphical user interface. Tape management is cumbersome, with costs associated with transport and storage. UBD creates a disk backup to disk and allows digital forms to be copied across the internet. The same tape commands that most companies are accustom to using are also operational when using UBD.
Instead of handling a tape cartridge, there’s a tape image, which is a file or set of files. Through a Web interface, they can be protected, deleted, expiration dates can be changed, they can be copied to a new location, and an entire backup (daily, weekly, and monthly, for instance) can be replicated across the internet. The time it takes to recover files is perhaps the biggest benefit. With digital files, searches can be granular and recovery can be completed in a fraction of the time restoring from tape requires.
Data replication, encryption, and data de-duplication are built into the device and Fibre Channel write throughput with UBD is as high as 409 MB per second, according to the manufacturer.
“People that have VMs want to manage everything through VM. So, we made our product work for them,” says Brad Jensen, CEO of LaserVault and its parent company Electronic Storage Corporation.
UBD is compatible with VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, and other popular hypervisors. In addition, UBD can be used on multiple VMs, which could be used to keep multiple LPARs functionally separate. These environments are also more likely to use storage area networks (SANs) or network attached storage (NAS), which are compatible with UBD.
UBD software-only pricing starts at $8,500. The interface card, at approximately $1,500, is also an expense. The cards can be purchased with 1, 2, 3 or 4 ports. Additional ports are approximately $2,500 per port. If installation help is needed, LaserVault will provide that for $1,250. Although some vendors add charges based on capacity limits, LaserVault does not. LaserVault continues to sell the appliance-based UBD.