Start-up acquires EMC technology for tape virtualization

By Lisa Coleman

Framingham, MA-based start-up Diligent Technologies has acquired EMC's Israel-based R&D facility that specializes in developing software—including tape virtualization products that are currently on the market as an EMC brand—and other technologies Diligent plans to commercialize over the next nine months.

EMC granted Diligent an irrevocable license for its R&D facility and technologies, which include tape virtualization for mainframes and open systems, backup and recovery, data movement, and message queuing.

Click here to enlarge image

EMC is selling a tape virtualization product called CopyCross, automated mainframe software that directs tape data to disk. Diligent will continue to develop the technology under its own brand name, Tape Virtualization-Mainframe Systems, while EMC will be a non-exclusive reseller of the product. Diligent plans to expand distribution through ISVs.

"Unlike other start-ups, Diligent has a sales channel, and we're not a one-trick pony since we have five different products that we will commercialize over the next six to nine months," says Doron Kempel, Diligent's CEO.

Diligent was founded in June 2002 with financial backing from Credo Group that includes investment from former EMC Symmetrix inventor Moshe Yanai. EMC also invested $5 million in cash for a 24% minority holding in Diligent.

But Diligent's ties to EMC don't end there. Kempel is former vice president and general manager of EMC's media solutions group. Although Kempel was once the target of an EMC lawsuit alleging breach of a non-compete clause when he joined SANgate as its CEO, he eventually resigned his position and reached a settlement with EMC.

Diligent's Tape Virtualization-Mainframe Systems software automatically directs sequential data to disk in an MVS environment. The software works with any mainframe or storage system that uses ESCON or FICON interconnects. The mainframe is connected to disk instead of tape and moves data by remote mirroring to another system.

"Benefits include shortened backup windows, productivity gains, and competitive total cost of ownership with tape-based solutions," claims Kempel.

In the mainframe space, there are still applications that use tape as a primary storage medium, according to Bill North, research director for storage systems at International Data Corp. In addition, mainframe legacy information needs to be processed in modern applications even though the data was written onto tape perhaps 25 years ago. Therefore, IT needs a simple way to support its legacy applications and devices, explains North.

"The idea of the virtual tape engine is that you have to be able to deal with the data independently of the tape mechanism in some way. You need to be able to support multiple tape mechanisms and have them talk to the applications and the mainframe, and that's what Diligent has done," says North.

Other benefits of tape virtualization include decreased dependence on tape and labor-intensive operations, increased reliability, and improved time to recovery, according to Kempel.

While the industry is advocating the benefits of disk-to-disk backup, Kempel insists that tape still plays an important role, especially for archiving. "We're not saying tape is dead," says Kempel. "However, we do believe that in data life-cycle management there is a place to back up from disk-to-disk and then to tape, which means you still use tape to archive. But we see an emerging trend where a lot of backup will be to disk, and the restore will be disk-to-disk."

This article was originally published on January 01, 2003