HP’s VTL sticks to the basics
No-frills StorageWorks VLS6105 virtual tape library offers speedy restores, backupsFollow @infoworld
After that, you choose the models and number of tape drives to emulate. Drive format choices include DLT 7000 and 8000, Super DLT, and all versions of LTO, which should cover most companies’ needs. Interestingly, as a rudimentary load-balancing mechanism, you can assign the virtual library and its drives to specific FC ports of the VLS.
Finally, the wizard had me create virtual cartridges, choose a proper media type, and specify an appropriate bar code numbering scheme. I was puzzled because although my tape drives were LTO2, Command View allowed only LTO1 for my virtual cartridges. This proved to be only a temporary annoyance, however, because in a following screen I was able to change the capacity of my media to match that of LTO2. Moving to my backup server, I saw the library soon appear in my OS and in Data Protector -- it was time to run some backups.
Backup, Restore, Repeat
I used Data Protector to run concurrent backups of the five application servers. Taking advantage of the “server-less backup” structure of my setting, I ran similar backups and restores both on the virtual and physical libraries to compare their performance and modalities.
Not counting media handling, the physical and virtual libraries were equally easy to use, but backing up 52GB to the virtual library took only 10 minutes, compared with 21 minutes needed to push the same amount of data through the physical library’s two LTO2 drives.
Likewise, restoring the same amount of data from the VLS to those servers was faster -- taking 14 minutes, compared with the physical library’s 24 minutes -- but single-file restores clocked a more striking advantage for the virtual approach, coming in at seconds vs. minutes.
I enjoyed using the VLS6105, and it’s definitely a solution that can deliver faster backups and restores. However, it doesn’t offer features such as automatic, rules-driven file migration or continuous data protection that other vendors, such as ADIC, FalconStor, and Quantum, include in similar products. To be fair, you can add these types of functionality by installing other products from HP, but your bottom line will obviously change.
In fact, having those extra VTL management and migration features bundled in can be an unnecessary burden for customers who don’t need them, such as small businesses that haven't reached the critical mass needed to embrace techniques such as automatic data movement, or companies that have already solved those problems using other tools.
Whatever your reason may be, if your main objective is to shorten backup windows in your datacenter, then the HP StorageWorks VLS6105 is an excellent choice. It offers enough capacity and performance to meet your need for speed at a reasonable price.