As enterprise data needs grow, so do the difficulties of maintaining, managing, and protecting the huge amounts of data that tend to accumulate when sufficient storage is available. One of the biggest problems has been the inability to back up data quickly and securely. Traditional tape-backup capacity is controlled by the tape's speed, which limits the amount of data that can be backed up to a single tape device during any available corporate downtime.

Many solutions are available for the data backup and restore problem, and the most promising has been the technique of virtualizing tape libraries. Virtual tape libraries (VTLs) minimize the bottleneck for backups because they use disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) backup techniques, whereby data is copied from the active data pool at disk-to-disk speed, then migrated from the copy to tape at the administrator's discretion.

HP recently announced a major increase in virtualized storage capabilities with its HP StorageWorks 300 Virtual Library System (VLS) Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) Gateway. Designed for use in complex SAN environments, the HP VLS300 can support as many as six HP EVAs, handle 500TB of capacity, and achieve a maximum system performance of 2400MBps. The HP VLS300 also emulates multiple tape drives in order to run multiple, simultaneous backup streams. The product supports a maximum of eight gateway nodes, and you can configure the hardware so it appears to network servers on a SAN as 1 to 128 individual tape libraries and as many as 1024 tape drives. The base model comes with licenses for 50TB of total capacity and can be expanded in 2TB increments by purchasing additional licenses.

For enterprise HP customers that already use HP SAN storage technologies, the HP VLS300 can work with the current HP StorageWorks 6000 VLS, which supports a maximum of 70TB of storage. If a user has implemented HP tape libraries and autoloaders, the HP VLS300 emulation will enable a seamless transition to the virtualized backup because the unit's virtualization will look like HP tape loaders and libraries to applications already using those devices. This means that you don't need to make any changes to any application that was using those tape devices to implement the virtualized backup environment. You can find additional details about the HP VLS300 at http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/storageworks/vls_gateway/index.html.

This enterprise-class, virtualized backup capability announcement meshes well with another HP storage announcement:storage blades for the HP BladeSystem. The HP StorageWorks SB40c storage blades add DAS capabilities to the existing enterprise-class blade server systems in HP's lineup, supporting as many as six 2.5" Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives to provide a maximum per-blade storage of 876GB for RAID 0, 1, 5, or 6. Combining blade-server storage within the blade enclosures means that the technologies applied to server consolidation will continue to simplify the management and physical requirements for large-scale, consolidated server systems. For more information about HP's storage-blade technologies, go to http://h71028.www7.hp.com/ERC/cache/49205-0-0-225-121.aspx?bodycontentparams=425970-0-0-225-121&ERL=true.