NetApp's Machines Store Smarter

The storage vendor issues machines that tune themselves and 'smart size' tape volumes.
Network Appliance is set to unveil additions to its storage portfolio that allow customers to corral their data without having to mess with their current infrastructure.

The storage systems vendor is introducing two new disk-to-disk backup storage appliances from its NearStore Virtual Tape Library (VTL) family. Disk-based backup is also a bonus because customers claim backup windows are shrinking, giving them less time to protect their data.

These new systems, NearStore VTL600 and the dual-head NearStore VTL1200, store large capacities of data on disk, automatically copying data to physical tape within any storage environment, including EMC, Hitachi and IBM storage arrays.

Both plug right into disparate storage environments and sync with servers.

NearStore VTL systems scale from 4.5 terabytes to 168 terabytes and integrate with backup application software from industry leaders BakBone, CA, CommVault, HP, Legato, Symantec and Tivoli.

At first blush, the systems might seem like another couple of VTLs, albeit more powerful than machines from competitors like Falconstor, IBM and EMC. But two distinct features put that notion to rest, NetApp officials claim.

Krish Padmanabhan, general manager of NetApp's heterogeneous data-protection business unit, said the VTL600 and VTL1200 come with self-tuning to balance workloads and tape smart sizing features for a 50 percent savings in physical tape versus other VTLs.

Other virtual tape libraries sit at fixed locations, waiting to store data. But regular load balancing does not adjust for data hot spots, which means a storage administrator had to manually tune the machine to adjust for the hot spots.

The new NetApp VTLs can adjust to these hot spots on-the-fly and are assigned to whichever device that gives the highest service level, Padmanabhan said, without having to pay an administrator $100,000 a year to balance loads and tune backup tapes.

Moreover, the tape smart sizing tool in the new VTLs allows customers to predict how data will compress when it reaches the physical tape drive. NearStore VTL samples backup data and adjusts each virtual tape to fit without impacting performance.

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