NetApp to release virtual tape, encryption array

Network Appliance plans to introduce a virtual tape library (VTL) on Tuesday that will include an integrated data encryption appliance it acquired with the purchase of Decru last year.

NetApp's NearStore VTL is based on the FAS 3000 midrange storage array and comes in single-processor and dual-processor models. The array can scale from 4.5TB to 168TB and incorporates file sharing over CIFS, NFS and iSCSI.

The NearStore VTL also comes with a feature called Tape Smart Sizing that NetApp claims can save up to 50 percent capacity on physical tape storage over other vendors' VTLs by predicting how much the data will be compressed once it is transferred to physical tape. The smart sizing feature works by sampling backup data and adjusting each virtual tape to fit the physical tape on which it will be archiving data.

"As you create a virtual tape, the NearStore VTL will know how much raw data to put on it so when it goes to physical tape and it is compressed it will fill the tape completely," said Krish Padmanabhan, general manager of NetApp's Enterprise Data Management business unit.

Padmanabhan said the NearStore VTL also offers a load balancing feature that can automatically shift backups to disks with higher performance at any point in time. The array also finds the highest performing RAID sets on which to create new virtual tapes and it will move those virtual tapes to that RAID set each time a backup begins.

NetApp gained the VTL software technology from its purchase of Alacritus Software for US$11 million last April. After that purchase, NetApp in June bought data encryption appliance maker Decru.

While NetApp has been reselling Decru's DataFort appliance as a separate product, it has now integrated it with the NearStore VTL array. DataFort uses 256-bit AES ciphers to encrypt data on NAS arrays, storage area networks (SANs) or backup tapes, and offloads all encryption and management tasks from the host servers. The DataFort appliance on the VTL can encrypt data at 100Mbit/sec. using the iSCSI protocol.

Padmanabhan said a single processor NearStore VTL 600 has a sustained throughput of 1.8TB per hour or 3.6TB per hour with the dual-processor VTL 1200 model. The two models can emulate as many as 1,500 or 3,000 tape drives and up to 256 or 512 virtual tape libraries, respectively.

NetApp has also added several new services, including design and implementation consulting for virtual tape libraries, backup and recovery and for disaster recovery infrastructures. The company also plans to announce it is now shipping an integrated version of Symantec NetBackup and NetApp SnapVault data snapshot software.

Pricing for NearStore VTL is US$114,000 for a 4.5 TB system. The Decru encryption option for the iSCSI protocol has a list price of US$10,000.

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