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Sepaton unveils VirtuoSO backup appliance with NAS interface

No longer a VTL-only holdout, Sepaton launches VirtuoSO backup appliance with NAS interface and plans to add Fibre Channel support.

After more than a decade of selling only Fibre Channel-based virtual tape libraries, Sepaton today unveiled its first disk backup target with a NAS interface.

Sepaton VirtuoSO is a multiprotocol box that will start off as network-attached storage (NAS)-only, but will eventually support Fibre Channel (FC), Symantec NetBackup OpenStorage, Network Data Management Protocol, a REST application programming interface, object storage, and will scale to 16 nodes, according to Sepaton's ambitious roadmap.

The multiprotocol support means VirtuoSO will likely replace Sepaton's S2100 FC-only platform as its flagship product. Sepaton also changed its data deduplication software for the new platform, adding the ability to dedupe data inline or post process, depending on the data type. Its current platform only does post-process dedupe.

"We designed this looking forward to the next 10 years," said Peter Quirk, Sepaton's director of product management. "This offers protocols and deduplication modes we don't support on our current line. As we mature the VTL [virtual tape library] support on VirtuoSO, it becomes a converged offering and lets current customers move to it."

Sepaton products go back to the early days of VTL when the plan was to goad backup software to write to disk as if it were writing to tape. Today's backup software treats disk as disk, not tape. With its FC interface, VTL is still the choice for many large FC enterprises, but the bulk of the market has gone to backup devices with NAS interfaces.

Sepaton's backup library competitors -- such as EMC Data Domain, Quantum, NEC, Dell and Hewlett-Packard -- offer either only NAS or NAS and VTL options. Sepaton was the last notable holdout.

"While NAS has been regarded as slightly slower than Fibre Channel, it's enormously convenient and well-matched to a virtual infrastructure," Quirk said. "Customers heavily virtualized with IP networks prefer this to Fibre Channel."

Sepaton is demonstrating VirtuoSO at the Storage Networking World conference this week, and it is beginning a beta program with plans to make it generally available in the first quarter of 2014.

VirtuoSO uses the same back-end hardware -- currently from OEM partner Hitachi Data Systems -- as the S2100 platform. However, the system is based on a new OptiScale architecture and the software is completely different. The S2100's DeltaStore data deduplication and DeltaRemote replication software has been replaced by VirtuoSO Smart Hybrid Deduplication and VirtuoSO Intelligent Data Mover applications.

The first version that ships will support Common Internet File System and Network File System protocols and will target deduplication. It will scale to four clustered nodes and more than 2 PB of raw capacity. In version 2.0, Sepaton plans to add support for VTL and cloud, source deduplication, a flash accelerator option, encryption, and ability to scale to eight nodes. The roadmap for version 3.0 calls for full archiving, automated tiering, tape support and scalability to 16 nodes.

Sepaton has not released a timetable for versions 2.0 and 3.0 yet. Quirk said because VirtuoSO's file system looks like a POSIX-compliant file system, it will eventually be able to host media servers inside the hardware. That will open the door for partnerships with backup software vendors for integrated appliances.

Sepaton claimed a single node can ingest data at 7.9 TB per hour and a 16-node system will ingest up to 126 TB per hour. Customers will be able to scale performance and capacity independently. (The SO in VirtuoSO stands for scale-out).

"This is markedly different than the status quo for Sepaton," said Jason Buffington, senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group. "In the past, its products were strictly VTL-access. When they started looking at where the market was going, they pivoted. This architecture has been a long time coming."

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