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Archiving storage systems -- VTL or disk to disk

Archiving storage systems will vary from instance to instance depending on the customer. Expert Greg Schulz explains the differences between VTLs and disk to disk based storage.

When recommending a storage archiving product to a customer, what are the reasons to choose virtual tape libraries over disk to disk back up? Is one easier to manage?
Generally speaking, a virtual tape library (VTL) will emulate an existing tape library instead of a block or file based disk based storage system. VTLs appear as a tape library complete with emulated tape drives and tape cartridges instead of appearing as a NAS, NFS or CIFS. VTL also addresses data deduplication which reduces your data footprint.

Appliances that compact data are another tool you can use to reduce your footprint and maximize the amount of data stored on a disk drive. While data compaction yields relatively lower reduction ratios when compared to deduplication -- which can be limited by the similarity of ingested data -- compaction should yield consistent benefits.

Deduplication is useful for backup because customers often have a lot of replicated data. Striping out the duplicates will free up space and lower your data footprint. There usually isn't as much cross over with archived data, but over time some replication is likely to occur.

Other options for customers are removable disk drives and optical storage. There are several variations of optical media including CD, DVD, magneto-optical (MO) and emerging holographic. Powerfile even offers a hybrid virtual optical library (VOL) that virtualizes optical media similar to how a VTL virtualizes tape.

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