Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is tweaking its virtual tape library (VTL) platform with three bundled configurations of servers, disk arrays and ProtecTier data deduplication software from Diligent Technologies Inc.
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When HDS began shipping VTLs through an OEM deal with Diligent in 2006, customers had to choose an HDS array for storage and spec out processing power. HDS offered services to help customers with the design but now has identified common configurations to sell in bundles through channel partners. The packages are meant to simplify deployment at medium-sized businesses, but analysts say the HDS platform needs to be more than just a VTL to find a real foothold in that market.
The HDS bundles are the Virtual Tape Library Appliance Model 500M, 1000L and 1000E. The 500M is based on the HDS AMS 500 storage array with up to 16 drives and 8 TB to 20 TB capacity, a dual dual-core processor server and the midmarket version of Diligent's ProtecTier software. Models 1000L and 1000E are based on the AMS 1000 disk array and quad dual-core servers. The 1000L supports 15 TB to 30 TB and up to 256 disks. The 1000E also supports up to 256 disks but can store 30 TB to 50 TB.
HDS claims 200 MBps throughput performance on the 500M, 300 MBps on the 1000L and 400 MBps on the 1000E. The performance numbers are based on the observations of channel partners working in customer environments, according to Victor Nemechek, HDS product marketing manager for VTL, although he could not be more specific as to how the numbers were calculated.
Other storage vendors have recently started shipping what had been software-only data deduplication products with pretuned hardware to boost performance or ease setup for users. EMC Corp. did that with Avamar's data deduplication backup software when it announced the Avamar Data Store in September, and FalconStor Software Inc. in January coupled its Single Instance Repository (SIR) dedupe with a new clustered hardware architecture in the fifth generation of its VTL software. "End-user customers have told us in primary research that they want something preconfigured," said Laura DuBois, an IDC analyst. "It's too hard to architect and optimize hardware while putting in new software as well."
However, analysts warn that appliances could run into scalability problems. Nemechek said HDS has yet to determine how to upgrade users from one model to another. "It would be nice to have some modeling tools so channel partners could work with customers on the right size appliance," said Dave Russell, a Gartner analyst. "The last thing you want to do is have a partner accidentally undersize a configuration," Russell said. If users outgrow an appliance now, they usually add another one, and Russell said he hopes to see Diligent eventually add clustering support so customers can pool multiple devices.
As HDS and Diligent try to expand into the midmarket, they may face another issue: Data Domain Inc. has already established a strong presence there with customers and with partners. Unlike Diligent, Data Domain offers a NAS interface as an option. "Newer backup products are beginning to evolve to address some of the reasons for the VTL interface, and everyone's in the dedupe game," according to DuBois. "The more interesting question is what the long-term strategy is for data protection and secondary storage."