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Dell's Disk Backup Appliance Bypasses Tape

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Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) today unveiled a new disk-based backup solution, but don't call it a VTL.

Dell said its new PowerVault DL2000 is designed to back up data directly to disk without having to first emulate tape, similar to Symantec's (NASDAQ: SYMC) high-end OpenStorage API, only aimed at small and mid-sized businesses and branch offices.

Brett Roscoe, senior manager for Dell storage, said Dell's "true disk backup" approach makes it clear what's disk and what's tape, making it easier to implement a disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) backup system.

And the price — starting at $12,000 for 3TB, with scalability to 144TB — makes it "much lower end" than Symantec's offering, said Roscoe.

But Symantec is part of Dell's offering anyway. The DL2000 comes with a choice of Symantec Backup Exec or CommVault (NASDAQ: CVLT) Simpana software. Both vendors are OEM partners and have developed unique code to work with the DL2000, Roscoe said. Backup Exec has a large installed base of Dell users, he said, while CommVault offers higher-end features like de-duplication.

Dell says the DL2000 lowers backup times by as much as 55 percent and restore times by as much as 77 percent compared to tape.

As an integrated hardware and software platform, it also makes setup and management easier, said Roscoe, and archive and replication capabilities are also available. The company claims it "can be set up five times faster than other commercially available disk-to-disk systems."

The DL2000 also eliminates the need for customers to configure RAID or allocate LUNs to their backup storage software. Automated dynamic disk provisioning configures and sets up the disks for immediate use, and storage capacity can be added on the fly without the need to reconfigure or set up the device.

Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group, said the DL2000 is a "nice turnkey data protection appliance with the flexibility to choose either CommVault or Symantec-based software, along with their optional suites of functionality."

But, he wondered, "What about Dell's other partner, EMC's software, that does not appear to be available as an option in this initial release? Or is the DL2000 meant to compete with other EMC-based solutions or simply be a choice point for customers?"

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