Fujitsu Siemens Computers has announced a new version of its CentricStor Virtual Tape Appliance (VTA). Version 4 introduces dual-target save, allowing users to backup data either to the VTA’s disk-based cache or to tape (dual-target). In addition to even greater scalability, the new version is designed for thin provisioning – through the flexible allocation of storage resources.

Also in CentricStor Version 4, available from the first quarter of 2008, CentricStor provides expanded service and maintenance functions, and creates the basis for deduplication functionality.
CentricStor Version 4 has been specially developed to address the three major pain points that data protection managers face today:
* Continued growth of data volumes;
* Data retention periods getting even longer; and
* The need to establish a second data center to provide greater disaster tolerance.
Directly addressing these pain points, the new version of CentricStor provides the industry’s biggest backup capacities – starting with the biggest VTL cache, which now scales up to a massive one petabyte – and Fujitsu Siemens Computers has trebled the number of logical volumes that can be processed in one system, from 500,000 to 1,5-million.
New in Version 4, CentricStor delivers combined disk and tape backup operations. CentricStor users can define what information should automatically be retained on disk and what information should subsequently be saved from disk to tape. This makes data backups more flexible than ever in incorporating ILM criteria, such as data importance, and in meeting recovery times required in the backup process.
With Version 4, CentricStor also makes it possible to realize dedicated and different service levels. Just like before, CentricStor initially saves data to disk, which is just as independent and rule-based as writing to actual physical tape (True Tape Virtualization).
“Our recent research finds that recovery speed and reliability continue to impede organizations' data protection efforts today,” says Heidi Biggar, storage analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. “By adding disk-to-disk support to CentricStor – and expanding the size of the CentricStor cache to 1PB – Fujitsu Siemens Computers does not just put a 'band-aid' on an age-old data protection problem, it provides a  real solution – one that allows customers to match data attributes to their current data protection requirements.”
Monique de Klerk, Product Portfolio Manager at Fujitsu Siemens Computers, comments: “Enterprises now face the challenge of having to back up an ever-increasing volume of digital information more quickly and flexibly than ever.  When backing up their data, they must also take into account the importance of the data and how quickly it is possible to access that data.
"Users now have the flexibility they need, thanks to the dual-target function of the new version of CentricStor. They can decide freely which storage medium they want to use for which data, which makes our Virtual Tape Appliance the only one on the market to combine automated disk or tape backup in a single solution.”
The new version of CentricStor also increases the number of logical volumes that can be processed in one system, from 500 000 to 1,5-million, confirming the Virtual Tape Appliance’s leadership in offering a greater capacity than any other virtual or physical tape system.
In addition to existing maintenance services, Fujitsu Siemens Computers also offers enhanced proactive services to help increase the availability of CentricStor, such as Live Monitoring and Health Check.
These expanded services can also include Fujitsu Siemens Computers’ monitoring of CentricStor systems: if an error is detected, rules-based actions can be taken automatically. In addition, systems are tested regularly and possible risks identified, so that proactive problem-solving activities can be started even before actual errors occur.
Customers are also offered service management for their complete data protection solution including servers and tape libraries. For customers, this means they need only make one call to solve a problem: Fujitsu Siemens Computers takes responsibility for the uninterrupted operation of all the components in a customer’s system – from taking the call through to identifying the cause and possibly also involving other service providers in solving the problem.
The new CentricStor version also creates the basis for deduplication of data, giving users the possibility of reducing the volume of their backup data along with shrinking storage capacity needs in the cache.
The “green IT” debate has brought to the fore another benefit of data storage on tape in comparison to disk – the fact that tape is a more energy-efficient medium. In contrast to enterprise disks, which are usually online 24×7, tapes only use energy when the data is being accessed, making them a more energy-efficient medium. Since CentricStor combines the advantages of tape with the advantages of disks, the VTA is an effective way to conserve energy and protect the environment.