By Jim O’Connor, Senior Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems Division
The issue isn’t how fast your tape drives are, but how fast you can get to the data when you need it.
Tape has always provided the most inexpensive, yet accessible, storage available for batch backups, disaster recovery, and long-term archives, but it has had its limitations (e.g., issues with mechanical components wearing down over time, unreadable media, time to first byte and, of course, tapes can be lost, stolen or misplaced), which have relegated its use to data that is infrequently accessed.
Although hierarchical storage management is a relatively new concept in the open-systems world, it has been part of the mainframe landscape for decades. When access is very frequent, data is kept on tier-1 storage and available for on-line applications. But as data ages and usage patterns become less and less frequent, it is migrated off disk and onto tape, where it is relegated to batch access.
With EMC DLm6000 Virtual Tape Library for mainframe environments, however, access to information doesn’t have to be slow or unreliable; it can be fast and consistent. In fact, data that took one or two minutes to access from physical tape via batch process can typically be retrieved in one second or less from virtual tape. This fact alone blurs the distinction between on-line and batch processes and allows data center managers to recalibrate their tiered storage strategies.
Because VTLs store data on spinning disk without compromising recall performance, businesses can keep much more data available for on-line inquiry. This can provide a significant competitive advantage. As an example, most banks allow on-line access of statements and check images for 90 days, after which they have to execute batch jobs to retrieve data and then print and mail the data to you. This can be a lengthy, time-consuming and costly process! But compare this to a bank that has on-line access to years of statement data on high-performance VTLs, such as the EMC DLm6000, and has completely eliminated the off-line batch process. Not only does this bank improve the customer experience by having years of data at customers’ fingertips, but it also saves money from an IT and overall business perspective.
High-performance VTLs can shrink backup and restore times, reduce storage and replication requirements with deduplication technology, eliminate drive contention (which improves performance and ensures availability), prevent lost tapes (via encryption and data vaulting), and reduce the possibility of damaged media and tape by storing data on disk. So, not only does a VTL help you eliminate physical tape, these factors allow greater flexibility in how tape data is accessed and used in day-to-day operations. Because data is more readily available, it has the potential of increasing the value of that data for applications such as hierarchical storage management, fixed content data access, electronic discovery, etc., ─ and this a win-win for your IT and business environment.