LaserVault Gears Up for ProtecTIER Migrations
November 11, 2020 Alex Woodie
ProtecTIER customers that are on the hunt for a new VTL system following IBM’s decision to end support for the product have a number of options available to them. For IBM i shops that are concerned about the speed of their backups, they may want to check out the ViTL offering from LaserVault, a longtime IBM i solution provider.
Speed is one of the big benefits that ViTL brings to the IBM i backup arena, says Rick Wilson, the vice president of sales and solutions for LaserVault, which is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“We’re not restricted by the size or the speed of what we emulate on the iSeries,” Wilson tells IT Jungle. “We allow all the internals to the iSeries to become the bottleneck, no longer what they’re writing to.”
Running on a Windows machine that’s in the loop between the IBM i server and a RAID 10 disk device, ViTL is able to push data from an IBM i server at rates up to 850 MB per second, Wilson says. ViTL is able to exceed the capacity of the latest LTO tape drives by emulating multiple drives and running parallel saves from BRMS or Robot/SAVE, Wilson says.
“With an individual threaded backup, you can see somewhere around 350 to 450 MB per second,” he says. “It’s really going to depend on the iSeries itself just how fast you can actually process the data.”
It’s not uncommon to see IBM i shops using multiple physical or virtual drives to ensure that their backups are completed within a window of time. But according to Wilson, LaserVault often is able to complete the same backup with half of the virtual drives required by other setups.
The speed is a result of how ViTL performs the backup, Wilson says. Other VTL vendors are limited by the speed that can be achieved by the physical LTO drive that they’re emulating. That forces them to add multiple virtual drives in an attempt to increase the speed.
While a ViTL setup can also use multiple virtual drives, it’s not doing that to get around the limitation imposed by the LTO drives, but to increase the overall throughput experienced by users, which is necessary sometimes to support customers with a large number of LPARs or who have very large LPARs to back up, he says.
“It’s basically just open throughput,” Wilson says. “When data comes in, it’ll come in in a raw format. We don’t try to process or change the data in any way. We just allow the iSeries to pump that data out as fast as possible, no matter what LTO version they’re using.”
LaserVault is available as a pre-installed appliance, or as software that runs in on a Windows server. The offering connects to IBM i servers via a Fibre Channel or SAS connection, and connects to backend disk storage (SAN, NAS, or dedupe appliances) via 10G or 40G Ethernet.
The company recently added support for NPIV storage devices from IBM. Support for NPIV allows up to 15 connections to be made per physical port. To support NPIV, LaserVault engineers developed their own Qlogic drivers, Wilson says.
LaserVault also recently added support for Cohesity, a provider of disk-to-disk backup and deduplication appliances. LaserVault’s offering provides compression and encryption, but it relies on third-parties like Cohesity to provide de-duplication.
The third-party vendors bring LaserVault into deals to provide connectivity to IBM i servers, which typically isn’t their specialty. While LaserVault can also back up Windows and Linux environments with its Universal Backup Device (UBD), its specialty is IBM i.
With Cohesity, customers will be happy to find out how fast ViTL can back up their up IBM i environments, Wilson says. “We can take our data stream and split it across multiple nodes, up to 32 nodes,” he says. “That way, we’re writing into all 32 nodes at once, which gives us the maximum throughput into the Cohesity appliances.”
IBM announced a statement of direction to cease support for various ProtecTIER hardware devices back on February 13, 2018. IBM’s plan called for it to stop selling the devices in in June 2018, with all support for the devices ending by November 2020.
LaserVault figures to get some of that ProtecTIER business, Wilson says.
“I’m currently working on several deals where we’re replacing ProtecTIER as basically a straight replacement for it,” he says. “We’ll put our appliance in, side by side with theirs, and then switch the backups over from ProtecTIER into ViTL, as well as do a duplicate media of the virtual tapes that are in ProtecTIER and move those over into our appliance, so that way everything is within our system.”
For more information, see the vendor’s website at www.laservault.com.