NetApp Does VTL

Network Appliance on Monday will introduce new virtual tape library (VTL) technology, which allows users to back up to disk without changing their tape backup software and processes.

The new machines give storage users more flexibility to address rapidly growing data and regulatory compliance demands.

NearStore Virtual Tape Library machines, NetApp’s new disk-to-disk backup storage appliances, act like tape libraries but provide more reliability, speed and resilience than tape at a time when customers are growing weary of broken tape or slow spool times. Disk-based backup is also a bonus because customers claim backup windows are shrinking, giving them less time to protect their data. The new machines also offer some nifty management features.

These new systems, NearStore VTL600 and the dual-head NearStore VTL1200, store large capacities of data on disk, automatically copying data to physical tape within any storage environment, including EMC, Hitachi and IBM storage arrays.

Both plug right into disparate storage environments and synch with servers.

NearStore VTL systems scale from 4.5 terabytes to 168 terabytes, and integrates with backup application software from the likes of BakBone, CA, CommVault, HP, Legato, Symantec and Tivoli.

At first blush, the systems might seem like another couple of VTLs, albeit more powerful than machines from competitors such as FalconStor, IBM and EMC. But two distinct features put that notion to rest, NetApp officials claim.

Krish Padmanabhan, general manager of NetApp’s heterogeneous data protection business unit, said the VTL600 and VTL1200 come with self-tuning to balance workloads and tape smart sizing features for a 50 percent savings in physical tape versus other VTLs.

Other virtual tape libraries sit at fixed locations, waiting to store data. But regular load balancing does not adjust for data hot spots, which means a storage administrator had to manually tune the machine to adjust for the hot spots.

The new NetApp VTLs can adjust to these hot spots on the fly and are assigned to whichever device gives the highest service level, Padmanabhan said, without having to pay an administrator $100,000 a year to balance loads and tune backup tapes.

Moreover, the tape smart sizing tool in the new VTLs allow customers to predict how data will compress when it reaches the physical tape drive. NearStore VTL samples backup data and adjusts each virtual tape to fit without impacting performance.

“When the data comes into our NearStore VTL, we sample it and figure out how much that data will compress when it eventually goes to the physical tape drive,” Padmanabhan said.

The new VTL systems will be pitted against the glut of data in corporations that refuses to stop growing and are an answer to the frequent tape loss issues.

In related data protection news, Decru, which NetApp purchased last year, today announced that its latest DataFort E-Series Version 3.0 software supports iSCSI-based storage in addition to networked-attached storage (NAS).

This means that CIFS, NFS and iSCSI may be stored onto a single appliance, bridging the gap between file-based NAS and block-based IP storage. This should give customers greater flexibility in adapting to their current infrastructure.

DataFort 3.0, which pipes data at wirespeed without impacting data performance, includes greater antivirus support, role-based access controls for administrators and more key management functionality to help customers encrypt and decrypt data.

Also, NetApp Global Services (NGS) will launch three new service offerings geared to protect and serve data: a VTL design and implementation for NearStore VTL machines; disaster recovery design and implementation; and backup and recovery design and implementation.

Article courtesy of

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.
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