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Oracle adds tiered storage to mainframe VTL

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Oracle has boosted its mainframe virtual tape library capacity by adding in a second tier of disk storage.

Sun, as it then was, announced its Virtual Storage Manager (VSM) version 5 in May last year. This is a virtual tape library (VTL) sitting between a mainframe, or open system servers, and a tape library and storing up to 90TB of data accessible at disk speed rather than the slower speed of a tape library.

Oracle has now announced the StorageTek Virtual Library Extension (VLE) as a second tier of VTL disk storage, using up to 3.5PB of SAS disks alongside the VSM's 15,000rpm Fibre Channel drives. Oracle claims this is twice as much as IBM's mainframe VTL product.

It also says the VLE uses "Solaris ZFS technology to provide higher reliability with Triple-Parity RAID-Z3, which delivers five times more data reliability than IBM systems using RAID-6". Take that, Big Blue.

The SAS drives spin at 7,200rpm and the VLE comes in 55, 110, 165 and 220TB "customer usable native capacity" points. Oracle says this means 220, 440, 660 and 880TB capacity points with 4:1 compression. There are 48, 96, 144 or 192 2TB SAS drives in these configurations, which could be Seagate Constellation ES drives.

There are 16 ports, with each port rated at 40MB/sec for its TCP/IP connectivity.

A VLE white paper (pdf) states: "It is important to note that the VLE is not just commodity disk but was designed specifically to be implemented within the VSM architecture as a second tier of disk storage. VLE provides virtualisation functionality as well as policy management - a differentiation from commodity disk."

The idea is to extend the time customers can keep backup data on disk before it gets dumped to tape for longer-term storage. Once data is off the mainframe, it is moved between the two disk tiers and the back-end tape library without mainframe intervention. The VLE looks like a tape library, an SL3000 one in fact, to the VSM control software, and it is controlled with tape policies and processes.

The VLE is not a high-availability design by the way. No pricing and availability information was revealed. ®

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