EMC adds backup app awareness to VTL

EMC announced a new version of its Clariion Disk Library that allows Networker 7.3 to control writes to tape will be available this June.

EMC Corp. announced a new version of its Clariion Disk Library (CDL) virtual tape product that allows its backup software, Networker 7.3 to control writes to tape, a feature that's missing in the original product EMC OEMs from FalconStor Software Inc.

The new version of the CDL, which EMC officials said will be generally available this June, will allow the Networker 7.3 backup application to control and track writes to physical tape out the back end of the VTL. The new system, available on the CDL 710, 720 and 740 models, will tack a 7.3 software module onto the VTL server to bridge the gap that formerly existed between backup applications and the FalconStor products' writes to tape.

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The problem has previously been discussed in several user interviews and surveys, including several stories on SearchStorage.com last year (see sidebar), as well as in Storage magazine customer surveys as long as 18 months ago.

According to Arun Taneja, founder and analyst with the Taneja Group, "Users have said, 'I love the ability to make disk look like tape'. But they've also told us very clearly that they're not ready to get rid of tape altogether -- the CDL has been adopted not instead of but in addition to the tape layer."

EMC's senior director of Clariion marketing Barry Aider agreed: "Right now, standalone configurations are more widely adopted with VTL products, but an integrated model is what's preferred," he said. "But the adoption of integrated VTLs has been hindered by this problem because of the fact that when the backup application can't control the entire environment, it means customers can't keep track of their audit trails, and it forces them to do two-step restores, where they have to go and find a physical tape, mount it back so it's visible to the backup application, and then do the restore of the data."

He said the addition the Networker module was "the first step toward solving the problem," and said EMC had plans to do similar integration between the CDL and other major backup apps sometime later this year, although he did not specify exactly when.

The Clariion disk library currently has more than 600 customers worldwide using it to back up more than 35 PB of information as of the end of 2005, according to numbers supplied by EMC. FalconStor's software is also the basis for IBM's open-systems VTL product, and is also sold directly.

Other EMC VTL news

As part of the same announcement, EMC also revealed a new entry-level configuration of the CDL. The new DL210 model has a starting list price of just under $50,000. It supports between 4 and 24 TB of 500 GB SATA drives and includes features like remote replication and up to 380 MB/s performance. EMC also announced that the entire CDL product line will include new emulation support for tape libraries including the ADIC Scalar 24 & i500, the Quantum M Series, and the Overland Neo Series, as well as new backup support for EMC Dantz Retrospect, NetWorker, CA's BrightStor, Symantec's Backup Exec, CommVault's Galaxy, and Syncsort.

"VTLs in general are no longer just for the rich and famous, they are being scaled down in size, capacity and price and in many cases without comprimising feature and function," said Greg Schulz, founder and analyst with the StorageIO Group. "The new DL series from EMC is a great example of that type approach."

But, he added, "While it's a great move to get down lower into the market and compete with the likes of DataDomain and others who are scaling and moving up in the market, the question is, where is the new high-end refresh of the Clariion CX family? Speculation was that it would be out in late April, yet still no word."

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