EMC buys mainframe virtual tape library vendor Bus-Tech

The acquisition could help it compete with IBM's mainframe storage business

Storage vendor EMC today announced it has completed the purchase of privately-help virtual tape library (VTL) vendor Bus-Tech for an undisclosed amount.

Bus-Tech, a Bedford, Mass.-based firm with 45 employees, sells appliances that mimic tape libraries for backing up mainframe systems to disk arrays, enabling faster disk-to-disk backups and data restoration in the interim before data is eventually archived on tape backup systems.

EMC has been reselling Bus-Tech's Mainframe Data Library VTL since 2008 as the EMC Disk Library for mainframe (DLm). The company also collaborated with EMC earlier this year to deliver data deduplication for the Disk Library archive product for mainframes.

Bus-Tech's MDL-6000 virtual tape library

The Bus-Tech VTLs come in two versions: Fibre Channel for SAN support or Ethernet for Deduplication and NAS environments. Bus-Tech's VTLs are compatible with IBM and Unisys 2200 mainframes as well as the company's Virtuent tape-on-disk engine processes FICON/ESCON channel protocols. The VTLs write tape data sets to industry-standard storage arrays.

Bus-Tech sells six models of its VTL for mainframes, ranging from its MDL-6000 to the MDL-100S. The MDL-6000 can scale from six fiber connectivity (FICON) channels and 768 virtual tape drives to 12 FICON channels and 1,536 tape devices. It has a maximum data throughput 1.5GB per second. The MDL-1000 is a single 2U rack mount server that has one or two FICON channels or up to 3 ESCON channels and emulates up to 32 tape drives.

Bus-Tech currently supports several proprietary disk storage systems with its VTL controller: EMC's Centera, EMC's Disk Library and Hitachi Data Systems' Content Archive Platform (HCAP) system.

EMC said Bus-Tech now becomes part of its Backup Recovery Systems Division, which is responsible for four other products: EMC's Data Domain deduplication appliance; Avamar's deduplication application; Networker's backup software; and the Disk Library array product.

IDC estimates mainframe tape storage and media revenues will be $2.5 billion between 2010 and 2014, creating a significant market opportunity for disk-based storage in mainframe tape environments. IBM currently dominates that market, but Shane Jackson, senior director of product marketing for EMC's Backup Recovery Systems, said the Bus-Tech acquisition will help his company compete against IBM for market share.

"There's clearly a large revenue opportunity here," Jackson said. "Certainly, there's a large opportunity that we've been addressing with the products already, but bringing the two companies together allows us to go after it more aggressively."

Jackson said the acquisition will present no overlap with existing EMC products. EMC already sells virtual tape libraries for open systems. By integrating the two businesses more closely, he said, EMC will be able to provide better end-to-end product support, which is appealing to large enterprises.

Frank Slootman, president of EMC's Backup and Recovery Systems Division, said in a statement that Bus-Tech will enable his business unit to deliver "a suite of next-generation mainframe backup products that are highly differentiated in terms of performance, integration and supportability."

Al Brandt, president of Bus-Tech, said in a statement that the acquisition begins "a new and very exciting chapter for Bus-Tech and its employees."

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Lucas Mearian

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