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Move Your Tape Museum into the Cloud; Interview with BridgeSTOR CEO John Matze Part III

Ask any large organization how many tapes they have sitting around in local storage or at Iron Mountain or some other third party storage facility and odds are they have more tapes – and are likely spending more money storing these tapes – than they would like to admit. This opens up a unique opportunity for a third party provider to solve this dilemma. In this third part of my interview series with BridgeSTOR’s CEO John Matze, we discuss how using the BridgeSTOR VTL cloud gateway appliance organizations can move their tape museums into the cloud.

Jerome: Tell me a bit about your road map for your VTL cloud gateway appliance.

John:  In the first release that we announced earlier this month, we included algorithms that figure out what data is stored where on a tape and then only retrieve the data that is required for restore.

The next phase will be to deduplicate and compress the data. With this next release, if you copy a Microsoft tape format from let’s say Symantec Backup Exec into this cloud VTL, instead of just having the raw tape image stored at Amazon. Then if you double click on the barcode label you’ll go into a subdirectory that will have all your files that are on that tape.

This is very similar to LTFS (linear tape file system) except that you can just click on an individual file and our VTL will get that one for you. Speaking of LTFS, BridgeSTOR will have a tape import as well for LTFS tapes that will copy them right into our product as an import. That LTFS tape will be treated as one of our tapes going forward.

You can see the current roadmap is going to be very interesting from the standpoint of organizations who have tape museums. They have tape libraries with different tape cartridge formats: LTO1, LTO2, LTO3, and they just want to get off of those formats and get them to a neutral format.

Because BridgeSTOR does this LTO interface, if your organization is going to an LTO-6 tape formation tomorrow (or whatever,) our virtual LTO-3 tape format is not going to change. So if you want to get a file back, it’s not a big deal. It’s going to come back in that LTO-3 format. You could copy it back to a physical tape if you then wanted it stored on LTO-8 or 9 or whatever the current number will be at the time, if you need to do that.

The best part is that you should be able to work on this with your existing backup software now and into the future. You could have this data sitting in the cloud without knowing or caring about how Amazon stores data in the cloud.

Jerome: What is the attraction or appeal of VTL going forward as opposed to using strictly a CIFS or NFS interface such as your competitors have done?

John: BridgeSTOR already has the CIFS/NFS on some of its current products so you can copy anything onto the NAS gateway and send it up into the cloud.

This VTL cloud gateway solution is for those organizations that have these tape museums. They want to get off of  tapes but they have all of these tape cartridges lying around and, as a result, they have to keep tape drives and tape software around that can access the data on these tape cartridges. Using this kind of approach they do not have to do it.

Jerome: So BridgeSTOR is getting rid of all these old tapes that people have sitting around and that they do not know what to do with. This is a way for them to keep the tape format and keep the data accessible and readable to the backup software while getting rid of the tape cartridges.

Right. One other thing: there is still a lot of people that want to do the Iron Mountain exercise. Using this approach, instead of taking your tape off-site to Iron Mountain, an organization can just copy a tape to this VTL and off it goes to Amazon.

While I do not see people getting rid of the Iron Mountain, they probably do not send as many tapes out there. This is just an alternative to that. Recovery time is a pain in the neck when getting tapes back from Iron Mountain and the monthly fee is expensive.

Jerome: Is Amazon looking to partner with you on this or promote it themselves? Or are you just going to be part of Amazon’s partner network?

John: We are going be part of Amazon’s partner network first. But Amazon is going to do referrals for us. It has a lot of banks and large companies that have these tape museums and they are trying to figure out how they can go get that data off of those tapes and into Amazon Glacier. This product should be a natural fit for them.

In Part 1 of this interview series, we examined the differences in public cloud storage gateways.

In Part 2 of this interview series, we talked about how a VTL cloud storage gateway operates at a technical level.

Jerome M. Wendt

About Jerome M. Wendt

President & Lead Analyst of DCIG, Inc. Jerome Wendt is the President and Lead Analyst of DCIG Inc., an independent storage analyst and consulting firm. Mr. Wendt founded the company in September 2006.

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