EMC adding tape to ILM

EMC may OEM ADIC tape products or even attempt to acquire Advanced Digital Information (ADIC), according to industry rumors.

Nigel Ghent, EMC marketing director for the U.K. and Ireland, is keeping tight-lipped however. "We don't comment on speculation or rumor around acquisition," he told Techworld, but not before adding, "tape will be a part of our ILM (information lifecycle management) strategy. We are looking into potential partnerships in the tape space." Tape, in terms of off-site archival, has a role to play in EMC's ILM vision.

EMC CEO Joe Tucci discussed this in a presentation last month to the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium. He said that EMC wants to offer a choice of data protection and identified two separate markets.

First, there is the traditional backup/recovery market with tape. Then there is the disk storage data protection area with replication, snaps and clones. Tucci said: "By combining these two technologies together this is going to be the future of what customers will use... We have all the pieces. We want to marry the best."

He went on to amplify this thought: "In the disk-based area what you're really recovering is volumes. What customers mostly want to recover is files. So you'll see us blend these two technologies together where you can use the quick, automated snaps, almost continuous backup if you will, or continuous recovery availability using disk technology, with some of the best parts of what used to be in the old days backup-to-tape technology, and we're really going to rewrite this chapter."

EMC has strongly adopted an ILM vision. So far its platforms are disk-based ones. However other ILM approaches include tape as a storage tier below disk for archival-type, low access-need information. Storage Technology Corp. is a proponent of this view.

ADIC is an EMC partner and a member of EMC's Developers Program. It has recently introduced a combined disk-to-disk-to-tape product called PathLight. Files are backed up to disk, taking advantage of disk's speed to reduce backup windows, and then written to tape.

What Tucci has in mind would seem to be a PathLight-like product, blending serial ATA disk and tape technologies, to offer continuous, disk-based backup along with backup to tape.

Steve Whitner, a US spokesperson for ADIC told us: "We have a long standing policy of not providing any comments at all on any possible communication with any potential OEMs."

However, he added: "Since we're the largest supplier of libraries for open system backup in the world -- and we have products like Pathlight VX -- it's logical that someone looking for a library or a backup hardware partner would talk to us as a potential candidate."