July 10, 2006 6:26 AM PDT

Hitachi moves away from tape

Hitachi Data Systems launched on Monday a virtual tape library aimed at high-end open systems and mainframe users.

The library uses disk-based virtual technology from Massachusetts-based Diligent Technologies that is claimed to be up to 25 times more efficient than standard tape libraries.

According to Hitachi, the system lets people move their tape libraries to a virtual solution without needing to make changes to their existing backup environment--or to existing policies and procedures.

The new library uses ProtecTier VT technology from Diligent, one of the rising stars of virtualization technology. ProtecTier uses a special data "de-duplication" technology to eliminate redundant data while maintaining data integrity.

The company asserts that this method can reduce physical storage by up to 25 times. Pricing details for the new service were not immediately available.

Reducing the amount of physical storage required is a key factor behind the use of virtualization technology to replace tape and optical libraries. Most organizations continue to rely on these older technologies for backup and long-term storage simply because they have been so much cheaper than disks.

Another key issue is the disruption caused when moving stored data from one medium to another. According to Hitachi, because the virtual tape library appears to the backup application as one or many real tape libraries, "the backup application accesses drives, robotics, and cartridges just as it would a physical tape library." But because the data still sits on disk, people should see major performance gains.

"The combination of ProtecTier with Hitachi's offerings allows end-users to economically utilize disk throughout the data-protection process," said Doron Kempel, chief executive of Diligent.

As a complement to the virtual tape library, Hitachi is also introducing a Backup Assessment Service that aims to identify and reduce risks with existing backup processes.

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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OK, maybe they've devloped de-duplication software (compression?) that reduces the amount of disk necessary while still "maintaining data integrity". Does this gurantee data integrity or does it somewhat "maintain" it? Anyway, to say that the software they've come up with would be more efficient running on disk than the same software applied to a real tape environment seems just plain silly. There could be a middle tier use for this but it will definitely not replace tape.

Disk will replace tape when a few things happen. One, the surface area of disk exceeds that of tape. Two, disk storage is as energy efficient as tape. Three, disk storage can be easily removed to a secure remote facility. The first will never happen; round disks will always have less surface area than sequential tape. Next, given that an idle tape library uses about 0.0 kwh disk has little hope of ever being as efficient. Lastly, sending fragile disk drives to remote facilities even felt stupid to type.

In short, maybe there's room in certain cases for a middle tier but tape is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Posted by scdecade (329 comments )
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Not at all
While tape is still necessary for offsite storage, as you correctly point out, vtl is very much a viable technology onsite. IT shops really don't concern themselves with kwh usage of disk arrays as compaired to tape libraries. The efficiency referred to is in space usage and performance. As for surface area of disk and tape, it doesn't matter. Need more space? Expand the array.
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
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