By Dave Simpson
Next month, Quantum's ATL Products unit is expected to begin shipments of a tape library configuration that solves one of the nagging problems with network-attached storage (NAS) configurations. ATL's Filer NAS Solution enables direct backup over the network, freeing users from the problems associated with backup devices being tightly tethered to NAS servers, with one backup device per server.
ATL's approach combines the Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP), which facilitates library/drive sharing, with Gigabit Ethernet switches and a Gigabit Ethernet card that plugs into the company's P-Series DLT libraries. The switches route data and control commands to the library. ATL's MC-100 Prism Management Card (PMC) is an embedded server that provides Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, handles NDMP processing, and acts as an NDMP SCSI server.
The "Filer NAS Solution" enables direct network attachment of NAS filers to a centralized tape library. The filers and library are NDMP-compliant.
This configuration enables multiple NAS devices to back up directly to a network-attached ATL library. The connection between the switch and the library's tape drives is over 100BaseT Ethernet.
The technology is currently certified only with NAS filers from Network Appliance. However, Gene Nagle, ATL's product line manager, says it will eventually be certified with any NDMP-compliant NAS server. The solution also works with NDMP-compliant backup software packages, such as those from Legato Systems and Veritas Software.
Included with the MC-100 PMC is a Web-based interface that enables administrators to configure IP addresses, create authentication passwords, identify network masks, and enter default gateways.
In tests conducted by ATL, backup speeds per DLT tape drive averaged 8.5MBps, peaking at 10.5MBps. In the tests, each Gigabit Ethernet connection at the library handled eight backup sessions simultaneously with no detectable performance degradation, according to ATL officials.
An ATL P-3000 library with six DLT drives, an uncompressed capacity of 11TB, and full Gigabit Ethernet and NDMP support is priced at $178,000.
ATL's release is the fruition of the Open Storage Networking (OSN) initiative announced in May at the Networld+Interop show. In addition to ATL and Network Appliance, other participants in the OSN announcement included Amdahl, Cisco, Foundry Networks, Legato, and Veritas.