VTL vendors target SMBs

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VTL vendors target SMBs

Alex Barrett, Executive Editor, Storage

If you needed any further proof of the growing ubiquity of virtual tape libraries (VTLs), look no further than Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP) new StorageWorks Virtual Library System 1002i (VLS1002i),

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a 1U VTL appliance with a list price of $6,099 that has just hit the shelves.

The VLS1002i, which bears a striking resemblance to Overland Storage Inc.'s REO 1000, is aimed at the small and midsized business (SMB) where "disaster recovery requirements aren't as critical as in the enterprise," said Adam Thew, HP's director of marketing for nearline storage, StorageWorks Division. "Once a week offsite removal of tape might be quite adequate," he said. A small VTL inserted into the backup process, meanwhile, can help SMBs meet their daily restore needs between full backups.

Running on an iSCSI-based ProLiant server with 1.5 terabyte (TB) of usable RAID-5 capacity, the VLS1002i emulates up to 12 LTO-2 tape drives and 180 cartridges, and comes with a single-server version of HP's StorageWorks Data Protector Express.

HP is offering other new SMB-focused data protection products as well. For $11,300, users can get a new 4U MSL4048 compact tape library with up to four LTO-2 half-height drives or two LTO-3 full-height models and up to 48 cartridges for up to 19.2 TB of native capacity. It also comes with a bar code reader and four removable magazines for bulk loading tapes. HP is also selling new Ultrium media kits with 14 regular cartridges, a cleaning cartridge and labels.

All told, a company can buy a complete data protection solution, including a VTL appliance, tape library and media, for less than $25,000, according to Dianne McAdam, director of enterprise information assurance at The Clipper Group Inc., a technology acquisition consultancy in Wellesley, Mass. "It's amazingly inexpensive, and that's very disruptive."

Thus far, Tier-1 vendors' attempts at entry-level VTLs have been few and far between. EMC's "low-cost" Clariion DL210 disk library, announced this spring, comes with as little as 4 TB of usable capacity but it has a starting price of $50,000.

But interest in VTLs in small businesses and in departments of large businesses, is high, says Bob Farkaly, director of product management at Overland. Users may have tried doing backup to disk, but they don't like managing another file system. Also, over time, some users report that performance drops off as the disk becomes fragmented, Farkaly said. "If you use VTLs, you avoid all these things."