EMC Escalates Mainframe Tape Assault With Two New VTLs

There is still a place for tape, primarily for archiving applications in smaller mainframe shops, says EMC; in an amazing coincidence, flash vendors are saying the same thing about disk. However, the place for tape is getting smaller and the storage industry’s 800-pound gorilla wants to accelerate that shrinkage with the two latest members of its Disk Library for Mainframe (AKA virtual tape library) portfolio.

The fourth generation of the DLm systems are 80% faster than the previous generation, and 4-5X faster than the closest competitor, said Jim O’Connor, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC’s Backup and Recovery systems. The improvements are achieved mainly through new virtual tape engines (VTEs) that emulate tape and connect to mainframes through FICON channels that have doubled in performance, moving from 4Gb per second to 8Gbps FICON.

EMC’s main VTL competitors are Oracle Virtual Library Extension and IBM TS7720 systems, with Big Blue holding more than 50% of the market. However, that share has dropped from more than 60% a year ago, and EMC has been taking most of that share, according to IDC.

“If it’s on disk, you can get sub-second response time,” said O’Connor, compared to minutes if the needed data is sitting on tape. That time can be very valuable, he added, especially in disaster recovery situations. There is still a place for tape, but he also sees a rapid decline, especially in larger shops.

According to an Enterprise Strategy Group 2012 survey of mid and large-size North American organizations, tape won’t disappear anytime soon. While the use of disk-based technology has become more pervasive in data protection strategies, 82% of respondent organizations currently use tape technology to some extent, although only 15% will continue to invest in tape and increase their current footprint. Conversely, more than one-third (37%) of organizations will actually decrease their usage of tape going forward, with the remaining 30% standing pat with their existing implementation. Midmarket organizations are more than twice as likely as their enterprise counterparts (26% vs. 10%) to not use tape to store any data.

Oracle insists that there is still a compelling need for tape: data is growing at least 50% per year, while IT budgets are stuck around 2-3% per year. Here’s how it breaks out the cost of storage: 100% performance disk = $7.5M/PB; 20% performance, 80% capacity disk = $3.5M/PB; 5% performance, 15% capacity disk, 80% tape = $0.9M/PB.

Another study, also on Oracle’s website, offered some more numbers defending the future of tape. For long-term archiving of many petabytes of digital data growing from 1PB to more than 28 PBs over 9 years:

-the TCO (including equipment, media, maintenance, energy and floor space) of the average disk-based solution costs 26 times the TCO of the average tape-based solution (tape costs about $1.5M while disk costs about $38.5M);

-the cost of energy alone for the average disk-based solution exceeds the entire TCO for the average tape-based solution (energy for tape costs about $47K while disk costs about $4.9M, about 105 times); and,

-disk required about 4 times the floor space of tape.

Thus, the more data preserved on tape, the lower the overall TCO. With 50% on tape, the TCO is reduced by 48%, and with 90% on tape, the TCO is reduced by 87%.

EMC has its own set of figures, courtesy of an IDC study it sponsored. Based upon an analysis of the aggregate results of the 12 organizations studied, the customer benefits realized from leveraging Data Domain systems to consolidate backup and archive data can be summarized as follows:

-generated average annual backup and archiving savings of $1.8 million;

-improved IT staff productivity to support storage operations by 55%;

-reduced loss of user productivity from backup, restore, and retrieval operations by 81%;

-three-year ROI of 489%; and,

-payback in less than six months.

O’Connor also mentioned that one of the mega trends EMC is hearing from its customers is the hundred-year data life. Given that disk systems tend to have a three-year refresh cycle, while tape systems tend to last 20-30 years, and cost considerably less, I’m not sure he saw the seeming contradiction there, but…

The Dlm8100 with VNX and Data Domain will be available at the start of September, while a VMAX option will be available in the first quarter of 2014. The DLm2100 with VNX will ship next month, and with Data Domain in the next quarter.


Feeds & Speeds

The new product line consists of the DLm8100 (up to 16 FICON connections and support for VMAX, VNX, or Data Domain storage platforms), for large enterprises, and the DLm2100 (one to four FICON connections and support for VNX or Data Domain storage; and when configured with Data Domain protection storage, can be shared between mainframes and open system servers) for SMB-sized environments.



Author: Steve Wexler

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