This disk thinks it's a tape

BANGALORE DEC. 4. A disk-based backup system that emulates a tape-drive library — that might be just the thing to set at rest the perennial `prashnam' confronting data centre managers: Should we stick with tape systems or switch to disks?

The U.S.-based computer data backup specialist, Quantum Corporation, today unveiled its latest data-saving product, the DX 30, claimed to be the first disk-based Enhanced Backup Solution in the Indian market. Featuring a canny marriage of hardware and software, it can store up to three terabytes of data in a disk array, that acts much like a half-way house, enabling quick access to recently backed-up data, before it is transferred to archival tapes. The data transfer took place at 216 gigabytes/hour. (A gigabyte is a billion bytes; a terabyte equals 1000 billion bytes).

The clever part, Quantum's Australia-based Product Marketing Manager, Mike Sparkes, explained to The Hindu, was that to the rest of the network, the DX30 disks behaved like a standard tape drive. Mr. Sparkes added that the new product that was being globally launched this week was part of an Enhanced Backup Systems Initiative (EBSI), a storage-industry consortium created to introduce new technologies into the data backup business. This effort to put `a new spin on data protection' was being sponsored by Quantum as well as other players like Legato, NetApp and Atempo.

While the data needs of Internet-driven enterprises were exploding, they were forced to make tradeoffs between traditional magtape systems — still the best bet for archival work — and new disk-based options which were cost effective for `mirroring' data or creating on-line fall back systems.

With the per-terabyte cost of disk storage falling more sharply than the cost of tape drives, it made sense for data managers to move, ever so subtly to disk.

Deliveries of DX30 were scheduled to begin in January 2003 and by March, Quantum planned to unveil an even bigger DX100 that could accommodate 10-15 terabytes. That's a lot of bytes — and they cost a lot of bucks. The DX30 is priced at about $55,000 — about Rs. 40 lakhs in India... but this is apparently small change and worth the price, for enterprises like banks, Internet Data Centres and the like where jumbo-sized fast storage is the key to the business, and backing it can account for 30 per cent of the total cost of owning the data.

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