SGI is branching out beyond virtual tape libraries (VTL) and into the disk-based backup market with today’s launch of the SGI Copan 400, the first major update to the Copan backup and archiving platform since SGI acquired the company’s assets earlier this year.

The Copan 400 series is available as a VTL (400T/TX) for backup or, “later this year,” in a native MAID (400M) configuration for disk-to-disk or hierarchical storage management (HSM) applications. SGI is supporting IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and CommVault’s Simpana backup software in the initial release.

The core platform can be configured with 1TB or 2TB SATA drives for a total raw capacity of almost 1.8PB per cabinet using 2TB drives. The 400M boasts performance of up to 6,400MBps, while the 400T/TX VTL can reach up to 3,200MBps.

SGI bought Copan’s assets in February (see “SGI snaps up Copan’s assets for $2 million”). Copan’s technology is based on an energy-efficient MAID (Massive Array of Idle Disks) architecture, which was designed for long-term storage of persistent data. The system can power down disk drives when they’re not in use

SGI has boosted the power management capabilities of the platform by allowing for a higher ceiling for active drives. Previous versions of the MAID arrays only allowed for 25% of the system’s drives to be spinning at any given time. Now, with the 400 series, up to 50% of the drives can be running simultaneously.

SGI spokesperson Jim Miller says the key selling point for the Copan platform has been its power-saving architecture. He claims a fully operational MAID array costs 7X less to power and cool than traditional arrays over three years.

The decision to raise the ceiling for drive spin-up, he says, is necessary for more demanding applications. “The option to increase spin-up to 50% is for more intensive applications, but the [MAID arrays] will still only spin-up the drives you need.”

SGI plans to integrate the Copan platform with a number of its existing products, including the SGI Data Migration Facility (DMF), which virtualizes multiple disk types in one system and can migrate data in the background.

Miller also expects that SGI will integrate the Copan platform with tape for deep archiving. SGI currently resells tape libraries from Spectra Logic.