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EMC taps FalconStor for tape emulation

Disk-to-disk virtualisation software

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EMC is the latest company to decide that disk-to-disk is the future for backup. The company has announced Clariion Disk Library which uses ATA hard disk with in-band data compression to emulate tape libraries from ADIC, Quantum and StorageTek.

The device uses software from storage virtualisation specialist FalconStor to do the tape emulation. EMC signed an OEM agreement for FalconStor's IPstor application last November, but no other details were released at the time.

For some years now, EMC has been telling anyone who'll listen that tape is dead, but tape has resolutely refused to roll over with its legs in the air. Given that it's not a software issue - most backup software now supports disk-to-disk too - EMC has concluded that the reason we are not backing up to disk instead is that we don't want to change our established processes.

Its solution is to use IPstor to make Clariion Disk Library work with your current backup software and processes. It creates native tape images, which EMC envisages being written out to real tape on an automated basis.

The device comes in two sizes, the DL300 at 12.5 to 37.5TB, and the DL700 at 58 to 174TB. Acquisition cost is 40-55 per cent higher than an equivalent tape library, says EMC.

At 80MB/sec, its single stream performance is not as good as disk-to-disk backup but at least 30 per cent better than equivalent LTO2 or StorageTek 9840 tape libraries.

The real advantage comes with restores, where a tape library would need to retrieve tapes, rewind them and then locate a particular file. Here, the disk library can be nearly 10 times faster, EMC says.

The idea is nothing new: Quantum announced a similar box two years ago, and StorageTek is among the companies which have, or are planning, tape libraries which include disk caches for similar backup speed boost.

EMC's pitch is that its box is a drop-in appliance which can be deployed in under two hours, as it needs no configuration and causes minimal disruption. However, tape libraries with integrated disk caches could provide many people with a simpler solution. ®

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