Now that virtual tape libraries (VTLs) have emerged as the solution of choice for medium-term data backup, the race is on to integrate them with technologies that will extend their capabilities as far as possible.
Deduplication looks to be at the top of the list, with FalconStor being the latest to combine VTL and dedupe -- along with compression, replication and encryption -- on a single appliance. The VTL Enterprise Edition overcomes some of the availability issues surrounding dedupe by offering clusters of up to eight VTL nodes and four single repository nodes. Through clustering, a single copy of a stored document can be made available to everyone on the network.
As an established depuplication vendor but a newcomer to the VTL field, FalconStor is up against some entrenched interests. The VTL Enterprise Edition follows by several months the REO 9500D deduplicating VTL appliance from Overland Storage. The company tapped FalconStor competitor Diligent Technologies last fall to provide the dedupe engine that bumps the appliance from a typical capacity of 30 TB to upwards of 187 TB.
Still others are bringing more established technologies into the VTL fold. Sepaton, for example, is adding RAID 6 storage to its S2100-ES2 VTL by integrating it with Dot Hill's 2730 Turbo array. The combo brings a range of tools to the S2100, including Fibre Channel connectivity, dynamic capacity expansion and load-balancing.
Despite all the new goodies making their way onto VTLs, it's important to remember that too much of a good thing can give you a headache. Enterprise Storage Forum reports that organizations that go overboard with VTL deployment often find themselves mired in operational quicksand. As with server sprawl, VTL sprawl can produce too many devices for even the best management systems to handle, leading to performance degradation.
VTLs can be a godsend when it comes to compliance and discovery, not to mention simple storage of institutional memory. But it's probably best to take a slow and steady approach to make sure you can manage the systems you have and find the data they contain.