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Sepaton VTL customers waiting for dedupe compatibility

Beth Pariseau

Two recent adopters of Sepaton Inc.'s S2100-ES2 virtual tape library (VTL) said the product has tamed bulging backup windows by eliminating tape, but they're still waiting for data deduplication to kick in.

Andrew Madejczyk, vice president of global technology operations for Sterling Testing, which handles background testing of employees for human resources companies, said his backup window on tape with EMC Corp.'s Networker was well over 12 hours before he went looking for a disk-based option last year. "We're a 24/6 operation since we have an office in Mumbai," he said. "Our backups were extending well into our production day."

The Sepaton VTL has shrunk that window so that nightly backups can be completed before the next business day and the company's 20 TB full backups can be accomplished within a weekend. Sterling still sends tapes offsite to Iron Mountain Inc. once a week, but is considering hosted backup options to eliminate tape altogether.

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Aside from Sepaton, Madejczyk's storage shop is almost entirely made up of EMC gear, from two Clariion CX500s for primary storage to the Networker backup software. Madejczyk said the company considered the EMC Disk Library, as well as NetApp Inc.'s VTL, but Sepaton was the winner on price (he declined to disclose exact numbers).

However, he can't take advantage of data deduplication yet. Because Sepaton's DeltaStor data deduplication software is application aware, it needs to be integrated with each backup application the VTL supports so it can recognize specific data formats. So far, DeltaStor works with IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and Symantec Corp.'s NetBackup, but customers of Networker and CommVault System Inc.'s Simpana software will probably have to wait until the second half of this year.

Neither NetApp nor EMC has begun to offer data deduplication with VTL products, either, and Madejczyk said that deduplication was a secondary consideration for his company. So he's showing patience while waiting for Networker to be integrated with DeltaStor -- but he said dedupe will certainly come in handy. "I've got a capacity right now of 22 TB, and I'm in the market for 10 more," he said.

Bob Pate, network operations manager for Texas law firm McGlinchey Stafford PLLC, brought in Sepaton to replace tape backups around the same time as he switched from Symantec's Backup Exec to Simpana. Pate said that the new hardware and software are still in the process of being rolled out. He'll use 7.5 TB Sepaton VTLs in Houston and Dallas data centers for disaster recovery and put a 3.5 TB model in a transport case and float it between branch offices in New York, Ohio, California and Mississippi.

Since he's in the middle of getting the VTL and new backup software rolled out, Pate said he's got enough on his hands to keep him busy until data dedupe compatibility is available for CommVault. "Once we start to use dedupe we expect vast storage improvements, since every one of our servers is created from a clone, and so many of our documents are based on standard templates," he said. But taming a backup window that had ballooned to 45 hours to 55 hours for the company's 6 TB to 7 TB weekly backup was the most urgent consideration.

Compatibility delays HP DeltaStor rollout

While Sepaton is rolling out data dedupe on an application-by-application basis, its OEM partner Hewlett-Packard Co. is taking a more cautious approach. HP has not yet qualified DeltaStor to ship with the Virtual TapeServer (VTS) it offers based on Sepaton software. "What we're working through with Sepaton is compatibility [with more backup software products]," said Adam Thew, director of marketing, nearline division, HP StorageWorks.

Thew said HP will also be looking to add tape integration to VTS later this year, which runs counter to Sepaton's overall strategy. From the beginning, Sepaton has avoided physical tape integration with its VTLs (hence its name, "no tapes" spelled backward). "Customers tell us they want integration between virtual and physical tape," Thew said, but declined to give more details about what HP has planned.

"Sepaton has prioritized its engineering efforts on enterprise-class backup applications that are most prevalent across its install base," wrote Lisa Ludwig, director of product management for Sepaton, in an email to SearchStorage.com. "You'll be seeing some more advances in this area from Sepaton in the June timeframe. Next, we will round out our support for Networker and Commvault to bring the same capabilities to those customers towards year end."

Sepaton needs to integrate individually with applications because DeltaStor uses a "content aware" approach to data deduplication. That means customers can select the data types they wish to deduplicate. Sepaton executives claim this method is more efficient, making for faster backups because customers don't have to waste CPU cycles on smaller or less important files.


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