Report: Virtual Tape Users are Moving Towards a Tape-Less Data Protection Environment

The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a leading information technology (IT) analyst firm focused on information storage, security and management, today announced the availability of a new research report, VTL Adoption and Market Trends.

This report examines organizations’ current disk-based backup and recovery activity and habits, as well as analyzes the adoption and market trends specific to virtual tape library (VTL) -- a software- or appliance-based technology designed to make a disk-based storage array emulate a tape library. VTL is most commonly deployed for data protection applications such as backup and recovery. In addition, this report provides insight into early adopters’ experiences to-date with VTL technology, as well as features and functionalities users would like to see added to their VTL system(s).

The report is based on a survey of 228 IT professionals at North American public- and private-sector organizations, ranging in size from less than 100 to more than 20,000 employees.

Important questions addressed in this report include:

* Is backup to tape still common among users? How well-entrenched is disk-based backup?

* What is the current state of VTL adoption? What is driving VTL adoption? What are the obstacles to growth, if any?

* Have VTL solutions met early adopters’ expectations? What type of benefits are early adopters’ seeing from their VTL implementations?

* What features or functionalities would early adopters like to see added to their VTL solution? Are users interested in data de-duplication? How would they rate the search and security features of their VTL?

* Is VTL being limited to local implementations or is it being used as a backup target for remote office/branch office (“ROBO”) data protection?

Among the report’s many findings:

* Adoption of disk-based backup and recovery technologies, in general, remains strong. Users continue to implement these technologies as supplements to and/or permanent replacements for existing tape-based backup and recovery infrastructures. Almost three-quarters of the survey respondents are doing some form of backup to disk, which ultimately means users are moving away from tape-based backup.

* Adoption of VTL solutions is increasing. Almost one-third of survey respondents have implemented a VTL solution and another one-third plan to do so within the next 24 months. ESG attributes this growth to a number of technical factors (e.g., ease of use, backup and recovery benefits, scalability, management, etc.) as well as to the increasing availability of VTL solutions from both established vendors and emerging companies.

* Backing up to VTL is enabling early adopters to keep backup data on disk longer (i.e., extend retention periods). ESG asked respondents to indicate what the average amount of time backup data was kept on their VTL system. Almost half of the respondents reported a retention period of 2 months or greater. As this technology matures, ESG believes these retention periods will only continue to increase.

* Backing up to VTL is enabling early adopters to meet and/or exceed both backup and recovery objectives. The majority of respondents indicated that since implementing VTL, they have been able to meet or exceed their backup and recovery objectives. As organizations keep backup data online for longer periods of time, the ability to back up and recover that data in a timely fashion will be critical.

"If proof is in the numbers, then VTL is clearly becoming one of IT's early favorite remedies for fixing broken tape-based data protection environments,” says Heidi Biggar, an analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group and author of the report. “VTL doesn't just address the key pain points of tape-based backup (e.g., media management and backup and recovery performance). For an increasing number of users, it is a means to an ultimately tape-less data protection environment. As the data shows, users are already well down this path with 85% of the VTL users having already eliminated tape from their daily backup schedules.”