By Dave Simpson
Acknowledging that tape-based backup can be an onerous task with a number of drawbacks, a group of software and hardware vendors have banded together to form the Enhanced Backup Solutions Initiative (EBSI). Spearheaded by Quantum, the group also includes Atempo, Legato, Network Appliance, and QLogic.
According to Robert Pickell, vice president of marketing in Quantum's storage solutions group, the most common end-user complaints about tape-based backup include the time required for backup, lack of confidence in successfully completing backups, and slow restore times.
"Enhanced backup" combines the benefits of low-cost disk arrays and tape libraries.
The group plans to solve those problems with configurations that include secondary disk-based backup coupled with back-end tape libraries for archiving. This configuration separates the "backup target" (disk) and "backup archive" (tape) functions and takes advantage of the random-access performance advantages of low-cost disk arrays.
Strategic Research, a consulting firm in Santa Barbara, CA, calls backup targets "backup arrays" and predicts a 34% annual growth rate for the product segment over the next four years. The firm includes in its definition virtual tape, backup-to-disk, point-in-time backup, and snapshot backup solutions.
"As continuous, non-disruptive backup becomes even more important for enterprises, disk backup technology...plays a key role in addressing shrinking backup windows and business continuance demands," says Mark Santora, senior vice president of marketing at Network Appliance.
Heightened interest in disk-based backup is being driven in part by the arrival of low-cost disk arraysusually based on ATA/IDE interfaces and drivesthat rival the cost of tape systems.
The announcement of the EBSI came a couple months after Quantum announced its DX30, a RAID array designed specifically for disk-based backup (see "Quantum gives backup a boost," InfoStor, April 2002, p. 8). The DX30 is based on Quantum's Adaptive Disk Array Management technology. Other early players in the disk-based backup arena include vendors such as Alacritus, Nexsan, and Sony.
EBSI member companies are currently testing their products for compatibility. After that is completed, the group plans to tackle a number of "extension" technologies such as serverless archiving, synthetic full backup, virtualization of tape systems, and distributed backup targets with centralized backup archives.
For more information about the new vendor group, check out www.enhancedbackup.com.