On the software front, Sepaton launched DataStor 5.0, which can scale across 16 nodes and now supports remote replication. The latest version of DeltaStor also has a GUI that allows customers to select the data they want to deduplicate and gives them a better view of the data deduplication process. However, it still supports just one backup application -- Symantec NetBackup.
While the larger drives will appeal to customers looking to reduce footprint and power and cooling capabilities, analysts said data deduplication features are now essential for any backup product.
Sepaton has been slow to the market with data deduplication. Although it began beta testing DeltaStor in 2006 and first launched the product more than a year ago, marketing vice president Asim Zaheer said there's a "very small percentage" of Sepaton customers using DeltaStor now. Hewlett-Packard, which sells Sepaton's software for its VTLs through an OEM deal, has yet to offer DeltaStor.
"Now that we've got multinode capability, we expect the attach rate to pick up," he said. He expects data dedupe to be a standard feature in VTLs sold in 2009.
DeltaStor's appeal will remain limited for most of 2008. Because it's application-aware, DeltaStor can take advantage of features in each backup software application to improve performance, but it must be developed separately for each backup application. Data dedupe support for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and HP Data Protector is scheduled for September, and for EMC NetWorker and CommVault Simpana, around the end of the year, Zaheer said.
"Being content-aware means I have to do a separate module for NetBackup, TSM and so on," said analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group. "It also means I'm not supporting some of them. That's the price I pay for being content-aware. I give you better performance, but I might be late to the market."
Sepaton's clustering ability can help it overcome some of the lateness, especially for enterprise customers, Taneja said. Sepaton has beaten others, including data dedupe backup market leader Data Domain, to market with clustering.
"If you want to play in the enterprise, you'll have no choice but to cluster," Taneja said, pointing out FalconStor's data dedupe software that also supports clustering across nodes.
Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut is upgrading to the ES2 Series 1000 from the Sepaton VTL it purchased in 2006. The idea is to take advantage of the larger capacity in the same footprint as it has now, said Michael Grillo, Foxwoods principal IT engineer.
"We're looking at capacity, the footprint of that capacity, and the heating and cooling requirements" Grillo said. "With more than 10 TB in a 2U drawer, you can stack more in one rack and eliminate a rack. Heating, cooling and power is everybody's bane in IT now."
Grillo said his nightly backups have increased from less than 1.5 TB when he first started using Sepaton to 4 TB now. A big part of the increase came from the opening of a new MGM Grand casino and 860-room hotel at the Foxwoods facility last October. With the VTL upgrade, Foxwoods will go from just under 80 TB today to around 90 TB. Grillo said he'll move his current VTL to the disaster recovery site where Foxwoods keeps its IBM tape library.
Foxwoods uses TSM for backup, and Grillo said he's interested in using DeltaStor but doesn't mind the wait. "We beta tested the original version, found bugs and such, and helped them try and get the product moved along," he said. "We did see good ratios on email and some of our other storage. We see it as an added bonus. It's a nice-to-have. We have plenty of storage today."
Grillo said his biggest complaint about the DeltaStor beta was the lack of a GUI showing how the data dedupe process was progressing – a feature Sepaton has added with today's upgrade.
Pricing for the ES2 Series 1000 begins at $60,000 for 10 TB for the rack-ready model and $113,000 when purchased with rack and switches. DeltaStor costs $2,500 per usable terabyte.