EMC is hoping to boost its presence in the archive storage market with a disk library that emulates tape drives while achieving disk backup and recovery speeds.
Both the EMC Clariion DL300, with a capacity of 12.5TB (37.5TB with approximately 3:1 compression), and the DL700 with 58TB (174TB compressed), make use of low-cost ATA drive technology to bring prices down to within striking distance of tape.
"This is a new category of storage," Chuck Hollis, EMC's vice president of storage platforms marketing, told vnunet.com.
"At the top end there is disk-to-disk backup which is fast but expensive. There is an issue with tape backup and recovery, and this sits between them."
He said backup, at 30 to 60 per cent faster, was not as important as recovery, which would typically be 90 per cent quicker; while factors such as easier management, higher reliability and scalability meant total cost of ownership (TCO) was competitive with tape.
The library system is connected by a fibre channel link and appears as a tape library to the system, emulating the leading tape formats.
"This is yet another tier of storage and is probably unique as of today," Ovum senior analyst Graham Titterington told vnunet.com.
"The gains are in reliability and ease of access. But keeping recent archives on disk is not a new idea, so this is not for everyone."
The DL300 and DL700 emulate DLT, SuperDLT, LTO, LTO-2 and StorageTek STK 9840 and 9940 formats. Single-stream performance is rated at up to 80MBps, with an aggregate 425MBps of sustained throughput possible when running multiple simultaneous backups.
Physical tapes are created offline through a direct link to a standard tape library. The offline system uses policy rules for automated tape operation without the need for a server.
A 32TB DL300 system will cost around £246,000 at list price. Hollis said both models worked out at around 40 to 55 per cent more than tape library equivalents, making them high-end devices. But they will be sold both directly and through the channel.
According to statistics supplied by Meta Group, five to 20 per cent of backups fail nightly. In addition, while data is growing rapidly the backup window remains constant at best.
Meanwhile, 60 to 70 per cent of storage management time is associated with backups, while recovery from tape can take anything from an hour to a day.
Ovum's Titterington said the price would come down as other companies entered the market, but that creating tapes and [occasionally] recovering from them meant tape reliability remained an issue.
"Optimising [storage] is down to the requirements of the particular company," he added.
The DL300 and DL700 will be available from 12 April.
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