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EMC buys into mainframe VTL market

Bye bye Bus-Tech

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EMC is the Dyson of storage companies, hoovering up other storage companies with no loss of appetite however many it buys. It has just sucked up mainframe virtual tape library (VTL) supplier Bus-Tech.

Mainframes can use tape for backup data and also during normal operations with a tape library connected by FICON or ESCON channel links. IBM and Oracle's StorageTek division more or less have the mainframe tape library sewn up. Both also offer virtual tape libraries (VTLs) with options for those VTLs to also function as VTLs for Windows and Linux/Unix servers. Privately held Bus-Tech has products such as its MDL-100V to link mainframes to VTLs such as EMC's Disk Library, FalconStor's software VTL, Quantum's DXi 7500, and Sepaton's S2100-ES2. The mainframe can write to up to 32 tape drives - 3480, 3490, or 3590 - which the MDL-100 emulates. It passes the data straight through to the attached VTLs where it can be deduplicated.

With EMC buying Bus-Tech, all the other VTL targets have their mainframe connect business at risk. What a clever move by Frank Slootman's Backup Recovery Systems division inside EMC. Yet more mainframes will now pump data into deduplicating Data Domain VTL disk backup systems. Still they could switch allegiance to Luminex, another mainframe channel-based supplier which Shoden uses - as if they have a choice.

Bus-Tech, which was started up in 1987 as a developer of mainframe channel emulation technology, has been in the EMC Select partner program since 2004, and an EMC OEM partner since March 2008. In July this year it collaborated with EMC to help deliver the Deduplication Storage Expansion option for the EMC DLm960 Disk Library for Mainframe, based on EMC's Data Domain DD880 product.

EMC quotes IDC estimates saying the mainframe VTL revenue opportunity is $2.5bn between now and 2014.

In a statement which should disturb IBM and Oracle, Slootman said: "The addition of Bus-Tech will enable us to deliver a suite of next-generation mainframe backup products that are highly differentiated in terms of performance, integration and supportability."

Bus-Tech president Al Brandt offered his contributing view: "Bus-Tech’s solutions span the full range of mainframe customer types, so the potential associated with this combination is significant. We are looking forward to a very productive future as members of the EMC family." By this he means more mainframe-attach options for Data Domain libraries.

Neither EMC nor Bus-Tech are saying how much the acquisition cost, but it certainly wasn't big bucks; EMC said the acquisition is not expected to have a material impact on its earnings per share for the full 2010 fiscal year. El Reg figures it's in the $5m to $10m area.

Well, that's Bus-Tech bought: what's next for EMCs Dyson acquisition machine? ®

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