Sun VTL extends tape storage to SMB customers

Sun's new virtual tape library, built on its Thumper X4500 servers, is designed to make tape storage available to the midmarket.

Sun Microsystems Inc. announced a new virtual tape library (VTL) designed to extend virtual tape capabilities to small and medium size businesses.

The virtual tape library Value comes with Sun's Solaris operating system, uses the ZFS file system and has a list price of list price of $84,995.

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Executives also said the company is in its final stages of testing the virtual tape library value system with FalconStor's IPStor storage infrastructure software for remote replication of data. That feature should be available in the next few weeks -- in time to squeeze into a normal sales cycle for the VTL Value product, the company said.

Virtual tape systems store data on hard disk or other media, but provide the archiving, backup and change-management functions of tape storage at a lower price per gigabyte than typical disk storage.

Rolling out VTL to the midmarket is a strategic move that could increase reseller business among SMB customers with rapidly growing data requirements but no easily scalable storage solution, according to Scott Robinson, chief technology officer at Chanhassen, Minn. - based Datalink Corp.

"This is a nice package that Sun has put together," he said. "It's a lot of capacity in a small footprint. Sun's core strengths are really their operating system and their file system. [This offering] is leveraging the ZFS and Solaris and this is a very cost effective package."

Customers likely to be interested include any that already run the Sun Fire x4500 server – known as Thumper – according to Dan Albright, group manager for Sun's virtual tape library value product.

It has been a very successful product especially in the channel," Albright said. "[Thumper] has been used in many different ways -- as an e-mail server and in high-performance computing -- and I think it's a great platform to implement for storage centric needs," Albright said.

Sun executives hope to capitalize on Thumper's sales – which are on a pace to reach $100 million by the end of the fiscal year, according to Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, speaking on the company's quarterly earnings call recently. Thumper is a hybrid storage system that incorporates a four-way x64 server with 24 TB of SATA disk storage in a four unit rack space.

Albright said the VTL value product, which is available immediately, will be gradually rolled out to specific customers.

Albright also said customers that have a need to reduce their backup window and drive down management costs can take advantage of the product, and that channel partners will be the vehicle to get the product to the target market of companies that have 1,000 employees or fewer.

"We plan to bundle not only this offering but Symantec's pure disk technology to provide a robust remote office solution that our Data Domain products don't currently cover," according to Mike Willard, principal partner at Dallas, Texas based Soccour Solutions, who has been anticipating release of the prodct.

"This is a smart step in the right direction for Sun to take the corrective measures to supply attractive low end solutions that users require and will buy," said Tom Trainer, analyst at the Evaluator Group Inc. "The channel will be vital in Sun's success in the low end."

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