BY HEIDI BIGGAR
Livermore, CA-based Alacritus hopes to rock the tape library industry next quarter when it begins shipping its Securitus I Disk-based Data Protection (DDP) software into traditional backup-and-recovery markets. The software, which runs on standard Intel-based platforms, turns disk subsystems into virtual tape libraries, effectively eliminating the need for tape devices in backup schemes, according to company officials.
"Until recently, users had a choice between expensive, but fast, disk and inexpensive, but relatively slow, tape," says David Hill, research director of storage and storage management at Boston, MA-based Aberdeen Group. "This software gives users a new backup option that is both fast and cost-effective due to the use of ATA disk technology."
"We started thinking about alternatives to tape-based backup when the cost of ATA drives started to approach that of tape," says Don Trimmer, founder and chief strategic officer at Alacritus and former senior technical strategist at Legato. "And when you factor in that disks are more reliable and that users understand them better and have fewer problems with them, we thought the price advantage that had forced users to use tape in the past was about to change."
The aggregate average selling price (for all capacity points) of desktop ATA drives last year was $0.005 per megabyte. That number is expected to fall to $0.003 per megabyte this year, according to International Data Corp., a market research firm in Framingham, MA.
Trimmer says Alacritus faced two options: to modify existing backup applications for disk-based backup or to design an interim software product that works with existing applications but "tricks" hosts into thinking their target is tape, not disk. The deciding factor was time. "The first option would have been a two- or three-year process," he says.
Securitus is designed to work with all leading backup applications and has been tested with products from Computer Associates, Legato, and Veritas.
Alacritus has partnered with Hitachi CP and Nissho Electronics to bring first-generation products to market. Hitachi will integrate the software into its SCSI, Fibre Channel, and ATA RAID systems.
The potential benefits of a disk-versus tape-based backup approach, says Trimmer, include better performance, lower cost, higher reliability, lower power consumption, and smaller footprint. "We're going after anybody that is experiencing 'pain' related to tape libraries, which seems to be just about everybody."