CentricStor combines disk and tape backup

Adds thin provisioning too

Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) has overhauled its CentricStor virtual tape appliance and now offers backup to either disk or tape with the product. It is the only product to combine automated tape and disk backup in one offering.

A virtual tape library (VTL) has tape-format backup files stored on disk for both greater backup speed and faster restores. The files are written to physical tape as needed. A disk-to-disk (D2D) backup device stores backup files only on disk with no subsequent copying of them to tape. FSC with CentricStor Virtual Tape Appliance v4.0 now offers both forms of backup in one product.

The disk part is termed a cache and can grow to 1PB in size. The number of logical volumes has tripled from 500,000 to 1.5 million. This means that CentricStor can now handle much more data and FSC claims these are the biggest backup capacities in the industry.

FSC has added other new features to CentricStor:

- Thin provisioning so that users need only buy as much physical disk and tape capacity as needed for writing data without over-provisioning and buying storage before it is actually needed.

- The CentricStor D2D facility will be able to have sub-file level de-duplication added in a few months time. (FSC already supports EMC Avamar de-duplication with certain Primergy products.) This would increase the D2D effective storage capacity five to twenty times depending upon the data being backed up. It would be switchable on and off to cater for data that should not be de-duplicated. Such a capability might be added in June, 2008.

- When data is written to tape three tape copies can be made for extra high data protection needs.

- FSC can monitor installed CentricStor systems and respond to failures and identified risky situations automatically. It can also have periodic MOT-like health checks on its operation.

- A CentricStor service contract can include servers and tape libraries providing one point of contact.

- CentricStor's grid-like architecture of clustered nodes can now have upgrades applied individually node by node, without the cluster as a whole being offline.

- It can manage encrypting tape drives.

- IT supports 4GBit/s Fibre Channel links.

Heidi Biggar, an ESG storage analyst, said: ""Our recent research finds that recovery speed and reliability continue to impede organizations' data protection efforts today. By adding disk-to-disk support to CentricStor -- and expanding the size of the CentricStor cache to 1PB -- Fujitsu Siemens Computers does not just put a 'band-aid' on an age-old data protection problem, it provides a real solution -- one that allows customers to match data attributes to their current data protection requirements."

CentricStor is the only VTL that supports both mainframe and Windows/Unix servers. The added features means it can offer backup storage facilities for fast backup and restore of many more files from disk as well as having the capability to look after many more physical tapes. FSC is positioning the combined D2D and tape offering as information lifecycle management (ILM) for backup data.

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