EMC targets tape backup market with disk system


5 Apr 2004

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Storage supplier EMC has announced a new data backup and recovery system designed to act like a tape library but which is based on disks. Called the Clariion Disk Library (pictured), it is intended to function like a tape system but is said to offer greater speed and reliability.

EMC claimed that IT managers can effectively plug in the disk system and walk away. “We’ve made this appliance easy to install and use,” said Chuck Hollis, vice president of storage platforms marketing.

The disk system will appear to computers as if it is a tape library. It is designed to emulate tape systems, to the extent that data is written in tape format. As such, the new technology allows organisations to keep their traditional data backup processes. It is targeted at businesses with large information storage requirements, with data capacity of 50 terabytes or more.

Hollis said that whereas tape systems contain a number of points of failure, disk libraries have redundancy features built in to avoid loss of data. According to EMC, the disk systems are between 30 and 60pc faster than competing tape libraries, with recovery time said to be 90pc quicker. “It has the same type of speed levels as storage on a PC,” claimed Hollis.

Disks cost more than tape, Hollis admitted, “but you get some of that [price difference] back with compression,” he said. Typically there is a 40 – 55pc price premium on disk media over tape, on a per-megabyte basis. EMC is hoping that the greater access speed and reliability of disk will help to push its product in the market. “It’s an availability and a time-to-recovery sell,” he told siliconrepublic.com.

“We think this will be an important category in the industry this year,” Hollis predicted. “There will probably be a dozen vendors offering similar products by the end of the year.”

The announcement represents a new market for EMC, as it has no legacy products in the tape library market which is said to be worth more than a billion dollars per year. Hollis said it was unlikely that customers would throw away their existing investments in tape systems but he said that the EMC disk offering would compete for new storage spending.

Systems for sale outside the US will be manufactured in its Irish facility, Hollis confirmed. “All international demand comes out of Cork,” he said. First products will be ready to ship next week, he added.

By Gordon Smith