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First look: iStora 4000 from Breece Hill

The iStora 4000 offers idiot-proof disk-to-disk-to-tape backup that smaller customers can afford.

This article first appeared in "Storage" magazine in their June issue. For more articles of this type, please visit

Integration is the key to D2D2T

The iStora 4000, a disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) appliance from Breece Hill, Louisville, Colo., automates backup to disk and then to tape, while the integrated data management software can replicate, migrate and purge data based on policies.

The 4U appliance consists of a server with a 2.4 GHz Intel CPU with 512 MB memory (expandable to 4 GB) running Windows XP Pro or Windows Server 2003, Gigabit and 10/100 NICs, six 250GB Serial ATA (SATA) disks and the capacity for one to 10 tapes. The product is shipping with LTO-1 or LTO-2 support, but will soon support SDLT-600, Sony SAIT and VS160. For companies with compliance requirements, there's a write once, ready many (WORM) media option for unalterable tape and optical storage.

W. Curtis Preston, vice president of service development, GlassHouse Technologies, says he likes the self-contained design of this integrated D2D2T product, and adds that it "provides a great value for smaller customer and branch offices."

The appliance includes iStora software that adds policy-based replication, migration, purging and file management. With client agents, iStora can back up to disk within the iStora 4000, then migrate to tape.

For users with existing backup applications like those from Veritas and Legato, the iStora 4000 can integrate by first configuring part of its available disk (or other network storage) as a standard Windows share. The share is then identified as the backup destination for the backup-to-disk functionality in the existing backup application. The data backed up to this share can be further managed by the iStora software to migrate it to secondary disk or to tape or both, freeing up the resources on the share for future backups.

The value of the iStora 4000, for Scott Leif, president of Globalstor Data Corp., Chatsworth, CA, a storage reseller, is that "Breece Hill has removed the complexity of integrating disk, tape and backup software ... the product is virtually idiot-proof."

The iStora software allows organizations of varying sizes to groom their data retention to the appropriate balance of online, nearline and offline storage.

For example, a company can establish policies for automating client backup to the iStora 4000 disk. If the company requires 30 days of online backups, it can set a migration policy on the iStora to move data from disk to tape every 30 days before purging it from disk. It could also allow the data to remain on disk for a longer period of time before purging.

While the iStora 4000 is positioned for smaller shops, it may potentially be used in larger companies. But there are a few caveats: The system board and processor are single points of failure, and its lack of tape emulation could restrict its entry into the enterprise.

About the author: Lawrence Didsbury is the managing director of Channel Play Corporation, a marketing consultancy focused on storage and computing technologies.
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