Gresham enters VTL fray

By Kevin Komiega

—Gresham Enterprise Storage, the storage arm of UK-based software and services company Gresham LLC, this week announced a new virtual tape library (VTL) product with built-in monitoring and statistical analysis features, marking the firm's first foray into the North American storage market.

The product, called Clareti Virtual Tape Library (VTL) Version 2.0, includes management features that can manage third-party tape backup environments. The Clareti VTL monitors and records statistics and events from the read-and-write activities of the VTL and the physical tape drives, giving storage administrators a more comprehensive view of their backup operations.

The Clareti VTL can monitor resource usage and system fidelity in detail, allowing for predictive capacity allocation. VTL performance is scaled by stacking more nodes in parallel. Adding a node to the VTL system brings with it two additional 4Gbps Fibre Channel ports.

The system's disk capacity can be expanded by provisioning more space to the disk cache. On the back-end, physical tape capacity and performance can be enhanced by adding more drives, libraries, or media as needed.

With the Clareti VTL, both heterogeneous physical tape libraries and other vendors' VTLs can be presented for management as a single VTL device to the backup software, while a Web-based GUI provides visibility and centralized management of the disparate physical and logical devices.

The storage analytics built into the Clareti VTL are driven by the integrated InsightEngine application, an index that monitors the federated backup system in real-time and retains historical data for more than 100 parameters for real and virtual operations, devices, and media.

As a newcomer to the VTL market, Gresham is facing a number of established competitors, including vendors such as Data Domain, Diligent Technologies, and FalconStor Software. But Keith Summers, managing director of Gresham Enterprise Storage, is confident that the Clareti VTL is ready to give the market leaders a run for their money.

"A lot of companies built VTLs to sell more disk. We set out to solve the enterprise tape management problem for users who don't plan to get rid of tape right away," says Summers.

Gresham's engineers have been dealing with enterprise tape management issues in relative anonymity for years. The UK-based company developed a product called Clareti Enterprise DistribuTape (EDT), which was designed to help users more efficiently manage Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) tape environments.

Clareti EDT is designed to extend the functionalities of tape resources by sharing a consolidated drive pool by multiple TSM servers and LAN-free clients, optimizing drive operations, automating media management and reporting, and enabling library sharing between mainframe and open systems environments.

Dianne McAdam, director of enterprise information assurance at The Clipper Group, says Gresham's background in tape may give the company a "unique advantage" in the market. She says Gresham's VTL was built with capabilities similar to those of traditional automated tape libraries.

"With a tape library, if you need to process more backup jobs you just add more tape drives to the library. If you need to store more data you add more cartridge slots to the library," says McAdam. "Gresham's VTL is designed the same way. You can add nodes to increase performance or add disk to increase storage.

"There are many vendors in this space, but I think Gresham has a shot at supporting large data centers that need the scalability that they can deliver," she adds.

This article was originally published on April 12, 2007