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NetApp Casts VTL Shadow

Network Appliance doesn't have data de-duplication yet for its NearStore Virtual Tape Library (VTL), but it does have a feature geared to making life easier for storage administrators. (See NetApp Integrates VTL and NetApp Readies Virtual Tape.)

NetApp and partners Symantec, BakBone, CommVault, and Syncsort today said they are working to integrate what NetApp calls its Shadow Tape function into backup applications from the partners. Specifically, Shadow Tape lets administrators retain a copy of a backup on the NearStore VTL instead of deleting it after the backup gets written to tape. The reason for doing so is because the copy can be restored quicker from disk than from tape.

Here's the problem NetApp aims to solve: Without adequate integration between a VTL and a backup application, admins looking to restore from disk must "hide" the VTL copy during backup. If they want to restore from the backup copy, the backup application looks to recover from tape. The administrator must then "unhide" the VTL copy before it can be restored.

Once the backup vendors working with NetApp build in Shadow Tape support, users will be able to set policies to automatically hide and unhide the VTL copy through the supported backup applications. Since VTL uses the same backup process and backup applications as tape backup, integration with the backup software is crucial.

"One of the top concerns of VTL users is backup application integration," says Krish Padmanabhan, NetApp's GM of its VTL unit. "They want the backup app to be smart enough to know there's a backup tape between the VTL and the physical library."

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