Ultera Launches ‘Breakthrough’ Virtual Tape Controllers

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Ultera Systems yesterday launched the first in a series of scalable Virtual Tape Controllers (VTC) for enterprise backup, restore and archive. Named the ‘Mirage’, controller operates as a hard drive-based virtual tape library which allows it to provide high-performance backup and restore with instantaneous file access. Ultera says that the device also has a unique patent-pending embedded archive capability that provides seamless scalability.

Throughput for the device is cited as an impressive 280GB/Hr for backup/restore on the SCSI version and 540GB/Hr for the Fibre channel version. File access times are equally impressive with measured times of less than 15 milliseconds when compared with several minutes or more using a physical tape library. One of the significant features of the controller is the AutoArchive feature which enables the controller to initiate and manage the archive operation. The archive operation automatically moves data stored in the virtual library to a physical library.

All library robotics are managed by the controller including exporting of tapes from the library for off-site storage. Mirage also has the capability to make identical copies of backup tapes directly at hardware speeds addressing the needs of organizations with multiple DR sites. Mirage fully supports all industry tape drives and tape libraries, disk RAID and is totally application software transparent.

“In other words, it supports investments companies have already made in tape drives, libraries and RAID equipment, as well as the application software they have already licensed and trained their personnel to operate. We did not forget the importance of cost of ownership when we designed the Mirage series,” said Mo Nour, president and founder of Ultera Systems.

“Mirage with all of its features and high-performance characteristics has received fantastic reception from OEMs and VARs but it would have been short lived if the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) model was not fully considered and implemented as part of the design criteria.”

Nour further explained, “Our Mirage VTC is the only one that allows users to keep their current configuration in place, no hardware changes, (other than installing Mirage), no software changes, no procedural or policy changes; its only through this kind of seamless installation process that you will reduce the TCO for the customer.”

Ultera points out that while Mirage VTC is a virtual tape product, tape remains a principal component in its design, as the company sees tape continuing to play a critical role in today’s, as well as future Disaster Recovery applications. According to the company, the design principal behind Mirage was never to fully replace tape but to enhance its utilization within its current IT mission. That said, according to Ultera, the Mirage has repositioned tape to its appropriate place as a removable storage device for archival purposes.

“With more than 20 years in this industry, we can spot real computing innovation and value, and it’s all here in the Mirage VTC. Mirage offers seamless configuration, total transparency to existing hardware and maximum scalability…this is a storage solution with measurable ROI,” stated Robert Allen, vice president and co-founder of System Upgrade Inc., a storage solution integrator located in Sky Valley, Calif.

“Mirage offers companies like mine the flexibility to configure the RAID, tape libraries and storage management software we have been selling to our customers into a leading virtual tape solution,” continued Allen.

Mirage VTC is packaged as a base hardware platform consisting of a 1U, 19-inch rack-mount chassis which supports up to two Mirage controllers either SCSI or a Fibre channel host connection is available each with five dedicated SCSI channels for disk RAID and tape/library support. All additional features are delivered as firmware options; these include increasing virtual tape storage capacity and the various tape devices supported by the controller. Model VT2104 is a single SCSI Mirage controller supporting 4TB of virtual storage capacity; list price is $23,300. Additional virtual tape storage capacity support is sold in 4TB increments; list price is $2,860. Library support is sold in 100 slot units; each has a list price of $4,285.

Model VT2120 is the host Fibre channel version, which is priced the same as the SCSI model. Model VT2104 is currently shipping and Model VT2120 will ship in mid-January 2003.

Ultera said that it will be demonstrating the Mirage through live demonstrations at COMDEX, Nov. 18 through the 21st.

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