TabeLabs simplifies SAN implementation

Posted on October 01, 1999

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TabeLabs simplifies SAN implementation

Heidi Biggar

At Networld+Interop last month, TapeLabs demonstrated centralized tape backup in both SCSI and Fibre Channel environments. At the center of the architectures is TapeServer, a software-enhanced server that sits between multiple hosts and tape devices, enabling shared backup in cross-platform storage area networks (SANs).

Among the benefits of TapeServer is its ability to bring most tape devices into a SAN configuration, regardless of interface technology. Fibre Channel and Ultra2 SCSI connections in and out of the server enable companies to implement centralized backup with or without Fibre Channel.

"Most companies already have SCSI, and though they may want to move to Fibre Channel, they want to do it at their own pace," says David Hill, senior storage analyst with the Aberdeen Group, a market research firm in Boston. "This allows them to get the benefits of SANs [in their SCSI environments], and rather quickly."

The only drawbacks of SCSI configurations, versus Fibre Channel, are distance and interoperability, not performance, says Alan Ignatin, TapeLabs` chief technology officer. "The issue is whether you can connect existing systems with existing hardware, while fitting nicely into a future Fibre Channel strategy and accommodating new drive technologies," he says. "In that sense, TapeServer is both a sharing device and a migration device." TapeLabs is targeting midrange server, workstation, and NT markets, as well as companies migrating from Unix to NT.

With a minimum sustained throughput of 50MBps, the server has enough bandwidth to back up 10 Unix hosts to 10 DLT7000s running at full speed (3MBps to 5MBps), claims Doug Davis, TapeLab`s president and CEO. In comparison, he says, the maximum throughput rate for traditional backups over Ethernet 10/BaseT is 1.2MBps.

Other features include tape library and drive sharing and off-line data conversion. Additionally, optional software modules enable library partitioning and mirroring. Server-less backup via Legato`s Celestra agent is also expected within six months.

TapeServer supports most SCSI-based tape devices; hosts running Windows 95/98/NT, Unix, NetWare and Solaris; and backup applications such as CA ArcServe, Legato Networker, and Veritas Backup Exec. Pricing starts at $15,000, depending on the number of host and drive connections and optional software modules. Product shipments begin next month.


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