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FalconStor revamps data protection services suite

FalconStor upgrades its data protection services as it moves toward placing all of the products under one management interface.

Falconstor Software today unveiled version seven of its data protection services that includes enhancements to its data deduplication, Network Storage Server (NSS) and Continuous Data Protection (CDP) products. This move is as a precursor to the company’s plans to deliver its Bluestone service-oriented data protection next year.

For the first time, FalconStor upgraded all of its major products simultaneously. That will lead to a move toward realigning all of them under the Bluestone single management interface—a key part of the vendor’s strategy under CEO Jim McNiel, who took the reins of FalconStor last September.

“All products are being upgraded, said Mike DiMeglio, FalconStor’s director of product marketing. “We are releasing solutions across the board in preparation for services-oriented data protection that FalconStor will offer in the first quarter of 2012.”

FalconStor changed the way it handles data deduplication for its Virtual Tape Library (VTL) product. It now uses a pre-hashing method so the deduplication process is shared between the backup targets and a clustered deduplication repository to improve performance. Previously, the product deduped data within the deduplication repository.

FalconStor also added high availability for the VTL’s CIFS and NFS interfaces via an appliance that can cluster up to four active nodes. The file backup target can scale up to eight nodes, and it has active-passive failover while the block target can scale up to eight nodes and has active-active failover. Sustained deduplication on a cluster has been increased from 5.9 TB per hour to 9.8 TB per hour. FalconStor also increased the VTL’s scalability from 512 TB to 1 PB.

With the new version, FalconStor’s File-Interface Deduplication System (FDS) and FalconStor VTL have a shared global deduplication repository for file and block data.

“By mixing file and block together, it allows companies to be more efficient because they are comparing all data,” DiMeglio said. “We are providing deduplication globally no matter what protocol, whether it is tape emulation or file-based, and we provide high availability so there is no single point of failure across all protocols.”

FalconStor’s NSS and CDP have been upgraded to support 1,000 snapshots at a volume or LUN level—up from 255 in the previous versions. Both NSS and CDP have been enhanced to support an increased LUN size of 64 TB, up from 16 TB.

“This matters because VMware vSphere 5 handles an increased LUN size of 64 TB so it can increase the density size on the host to put more virtual machines on a host,” DiMeglio said. “We mirror that exactly.”

FalconStor also added support for VMware’s vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) support to NSS. The VAAI offloads all the storage responsibility from the VMware host to the array. DiMeglio said FalconStor products support heterogeneous arrays, even those not VAAI certified. “VAAI is limited to a single physical array,” he said. “We can support multiple arrays.”

All of FalconStor’s products are sold as a virtual appliance, hardware appliance or on a gateway. But while FalconStor refers to its products as a suite, it has not integrated them before, mainly because it has had an OEM business model. That will change with Bluestone as FalconStor takes a single management approach.

“FalconStor is bringing all these products together,” said Lauren Whitehouse, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. “This is the early ground work for Bluestone. There are lots of companies that have integrated their data protection products and there is some benefit to having a single vendor approach, such as economies of scale and simplified management.”

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