FAQ

Virtual Tape

General

What is virtual tape?

A virtual tape system is a storage device that uses rotational disk to emulate physical tape drives and tape libraries. It is desirable to use disk as a storage media because it is much faster than traditional tape drives and also more dependable and flexible. Virtual tape systems look just like tape drives and tape libraries to the operating system; tapes can be mounted, scratched and used just like a real tape. Virtual tape systems come in many different form factors Dynamic Solutions International sells both self contained appliances and head units that attach to external RAID disk systems and use either Fibre Channel or iSCSI to attach to servers or storage networks.

How much faster is virtual tape than real tape?

A high performance tape drive, such as LTO3 is rated at over 100MB/sec, but with tape marks, I/O block size and systems utilization, these speeds are rarely if ever achieved. A DSI virtual tape system is built on a high performance RAID disk system with an average access time of 4-5 milliseconds. Because it is emulating tape, its performance characteristics are not the same. Tape marks and I/O starvation do not require the performance killing repositioning that actual streaming tapes require. A DSI virtual tape system is up to 25 times faster than the tape drives that it emulates.

What kind of storage do you use in your virtual tape appliances?

DSI virtual tape systems are currently deployed with 400MB, 500MB and 750MB SATA RAID5 arrays.

Why is virtual tape a better choice than traditional tape?

There are several reasons that a virtual tape is a better solution than tape alone in a backup environment. Here are some of those reasons:
  1. The DSI virtual tape is RAID protected. The virtual tape volumes stored on disk are ensured by disk I/O write protection and by RAID5 data striping and mirroring.
  2. Ensures backup/restore success by eliminating media/ mechanical errors and manual intervention associated with traditional tape.
  3. Remote offsite replication of virtual tapes provides disaster protection.
  4. A virtual tape systems centralize management & consolidate backup resources.
  5. Support for multiple concurrent sessions promotes faster backup and facilitates rapid data recovery
  6. Disk-to-disk is faster than traditional tape backup
  7. Data movement between the virtual tape systems disk-based virtual tapes to physical tape media is accomplished as a secondary task; this process can be completed at any time of the day without impacting application performance.
  8. Integrates seamlessly with existing backup software and policies
  9. Easy to deploy

Will I lose data if a system has a catastrophic failure?

We have engineered a lot of redundancy into our DSI virtual tape systems. The systems have hot swap power supplies, hot swap and RAID protected backup hard disk drives, redundant fans, and support for redundant controllers (with active-active failover). In the unlikely event of a catastrophic system problem, the data is still safe on the RAID protected drives.

Can I monitor the DSI virtual tape system with my SNMP monitoring software?

Yes. The DSI virtual tape systems support SNMP monitoring programs and provide a MIB for download. All items monitored in the DSI virtual tape system are provided over SNMP.

Virtual Tape Interoperability

Will virtual tape work with my operating system?

Our virtual tape systems are tested with many operating systems including: Windows, Linux (Red Hat, Suse), Unisys, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, IRIX, Tandem, and AS400. For all of these environments, the DSI virtual tape is just another tape drive to the operating system.

Will virtual tape work with my backup package?

Our virtual tape systems are tested with many backup systems including: Symantec, Legato, CA, Backbone etc. For all of these environments, the DSI virtual tape is just another tape library and drives to the operating system.

Will virtual tape work with my Host Bus Adapter or Switch?

If a host bus adapter company (ATTO, Cambex, Emulex, LSI Logic, QLogic, Unisys) or server manufacturer makes a FC host bus adapter or iSCSI toe card to support open systems, then odds are we will work with it. If a switch company (Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, McData, QLogic) makes a Fibre Channel or IP switch for open systems environments, then odds are that we will work with that switch also.

I don't have Fibre Channel, can I attach your virtual tape system?

Yes, the DSI virtual tape systems also support iSCSI so that you can leverage your existing network infrastructure. If you need additional speed, the DSI virtual tape systems support Fibre Channel which is as simple to install and connect as iSCSI yet offers better performance.

Do I need a special driver or software to install your virtual tape system?

No. The DSI virtual tape systems will work with the standard drivers for the tape drives that are being emulated.

Do I need to modify my backup software to work with the virtual tape?

In many cases no. Your backup software does not care if data is stored on a virtual tape or a real tape.

Purchasing Virtual Tape Systems from DSI

How long has Dynamic Solutions International been in business?

Dynamic Solutions International was founded in 1973 and is on its second generation of virtual tape based systems. The company is not venture backed and operates without debt.

Do you have any competitors?

Yes. There are many manufacturers of virtual tape systems. However, our 33 years in the storage business and the fact that we also have our own backup and media management system for mainframes leaves us uniquely qualified to handle the requirements of a mission critical backup environment.

Do you sell DSI virtual tape systems in my country?

Almost certainly, unless you live in a country that is prohibited from buying technology products from U.S. companies. Even more importantly, because of our relationship with Unisys, our virtual tape systems can be supported in most global locations. Please check with DSI for availability.

What kind of support and warranties do you offer?

DSI virtual tape systems ship with a one year return to factory warranty.

Do you offer leasing options?

Dynamic Solutions International can work with our sister leasing company to provide you with competitive leasing rates.

How do I buy a virtual tape system?

Please call us at 303.754.2000 and ask for DSI storage specialist or complete our web form to have a DSI representative contact you.

Solid State Disk

General

What is a solid state disk?

A solid state disk is a storage device that uses memory as the storage media. It is desirable to use memory as a storage media because it is much faster than traditional hard drives. Solid state disks look like a disk drive to the operating system; they can be mounted, formatted and used just like any other disk. Solid state disks come in many different form factors Dynamic Solutions International sells externally attached solid state disks that use Fibre Channel to attach to servers or storage networks. Most solid state disk systems, including SSD from DSI, have built in batteries and back-up hard disk drives to preserve data if power is lost.

How much faster is solid state disk than a hard drive?

A good hard disk drive provides access times in the 4-5 millisecond range. A DSI solid state disk has an access time of 15 microseconds. A DSI solid state disk is 250 times faster than a hard disk drive. A good hard disk drive provides 250-300 random I/O's per second. The DSI solid state disk provides over 400,000 random I/O's per second. It would take 1,333 hard disk drives to match this total I/O performance.

What are IOPS?

The acronym IOPS stands for Input/Output Per Second. The number of IOPS a storage device can perform is a factor of:
  1. The block size of the I/O (systems can do more IOPS with small block size transfers);
  2. Data read versus data write pattern
  3. Random versus sequential access patterns (most storage devices do much better with sequential data access instead of random data access ... solid state disks perform well with random or sequential accesses).

What kind of memory do you use in your solid state disk?

DSI solid state disk systems are currently deployed with 256Mbit and 512Mbit DDR RAM. Memory is selected based on performance, density, reliability and the best price per density.

Why is solid state disk a better choice than adding more memory to a server?

There are several reasons that a solid state disk might be a better solution than adding memory to a server. Here are some of those reasons:
  1. The DSI solid state disk is non-volatile. The memory in your server is volatile meaning that it loses data if you lose external power. The DSI solid state disk preserves your data even if external power is lost.
  2. The DSI solid state disk is external to the server. If your server reboots or crashes, you will lose all data in server memory. The DSI solid state disk is isolated from server instability and preserves data even if the server reboots.
  3. The DSI solid state disk can be shared across multiple servers. The memory in your server can only be used by that server. The memory in a solid state disk can be shared across multiple servers simultaneously.
  4. With solid state disk, you never have a cache miss. In normal operating modes, your server memory is only used to cache recently read data and is worthless for really random data accesses to large data sets. With solid state disk, you never have a cache miss because the data is permanently stored in memory.
  5. Solid state disks are a more economical way to accumulate large memory capacities. The higher the memory density in your server, the more you will have to pay for it. External solid state disks are not limited by processor to memory restrictions or even space constraints like servers.
  6. The DSI solid state disk does not need to be thrown out when you upgrade your server. New generations of servers almost always require new generations of memory. Even upgrading memory in a server might require upgrading to higher densities of memory. The DSI solid state disk does not need to be modified if you upgrade your server.
  7. DSI solid state disk solid state disks provide better memory protection than most server memory.

Will I lose data if I lose power?

No. The DSI solid state disk systems are equipped with redundant batteries and internal hard disk drives. If external power is lost, the internal batteries will power the system under full operation for five minutes before electronically disconnecting from a server and completely backing up all data that is in memory to the internal hard disk drives. Even if the system is fully loaded with memory, backing up to the internal disks will take no more than 12 minutes. The batteries in the system are N+1 redundant, which means that there is enough battery capacity with just two of the three batteries to power the unit and complete backup after external power fails. The hard disk drives in the system are RAID protected which means that even if a hard disk drive fails, the other disk drives will be able to backup the system in the event of power outage.

Will I lose data if I lose a memory chip?

All new DSI solid state disk systems are shipping with Chipkill technology. Chipkill protects your data even if an entire memory chip fails. Chipkill works in concert with the system's built-in ECC error correcting logic. If a memory chip fails, the system's ECC logic automatically corrects the resulting single bit errors thus preserving your data. IBM, one of the first companies to promote Chipkill, did a detailed study on the effect of Chipkill and suggests that it decreases the likelihood of data loss in a memory system by two orders of magnitude.

Will I lose data if a system has a catastrophic failure?

We have engineered a lot of redundancy into our DSI solid state disk systems. The systems have hot swap power supplies, hot swap and RAID protected backup hard disk drives, redundant batteries, redundant fans, ECC and Chipkill protected memory (essentially RAIDed memory), support for redundant controllers (with multipathing software), and a management controller that operates purely outside of the data path so that a failure does not stop data transfer. Even with all of these protections, it is still possible to have a catastrophic event that results in lost availability or data corruption. For customers who require performance availability (i.e. you cannot lose performance or data if a system fails), we recommend mirroring units or arrays of units to each other. We have many customers at stock exchanges and financial institutions where mirrored systems provide constant availability. For customers who simply require data availability (i.e. you cannot lose access to your data but can handle a temporary drop in performance) then we can recommend some solutions that do not require mirrored solid state disk systems. Many of our customers use a single solid state disk and use their existing backup or database log replication strategies in the unlikely event of a catastrophic system problem.

Can I monitor the DSI solid state disk with my SNMP monitoring software?

Yes. The DSI solid state disk supports SNMP monitoring programs and provides a MIB for download. All items monitored in the DSI solid state disk are provided over SNMP.

Solid State Disk Interoperability

Will solid state disk work with my operating system?

Our solid state disks are tested with many operating systems including: Windows, Linux (Red Hat, Suse), Unisys, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, IRIX, OpenVMS, and Mac OS. For all of these environments, the DSI solid state disk is just another disk drive to the operating system.

Will solid state disk work with my Host Bus Adapter or Switch?

If a host bus adapter company (ATTO, Cambex, Emulex, LSI Logic, QLogic, Unisys) or server manufacturer makes a host bus adapter to support open systems, then odds are we will work with it. If a switch company (Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, McData, QLogic) makes a Fibre Channel switch for open systems environments, then odds are that we will work with that switch also. Many of these companies are our partners. They use our solid state disk to test performance of their own products.

Will the DSI solid state disk work with my file system?

Once you have connected the DSI solid state disk to your server, the LUNs presented by the DSI solid state disk can be formatted (or not) with any file system. In fact, since the DSI solid state disk can present up to 64 LUNs, each of those LUNs could be formatted with a different file system. The DSI solid state disk is frequently used with SAN shared file systems such as Sun's QFS or ADIC's StorNext.

Will the DSI solid state disk work with my server virtualization/clustering software?

The DSI solid state disk has been tested and works well in most server virtualization (VMWare, Polyserve) and server clustering (Windows, Sun, IBM, OpenVMS, Oracle, etc) environments. The DSI solid state disk supports simple and persistent reservations.

Will the DSI solid state disk work with my multipathing software?

Dynamic Solutions International has tested and works with most multipathing software. DSI has developed an MPIO module for Windows environments. For Sun environments, we support MPxIO and Symantec's DMP. In IBM AIX environments, the DSI solid state disk works with RDAC and Cambex's multipathing software. In Linux environments, the system will work with built in multipathing tools. Where QLogic offers their built-in active:passive multipathing tools, we work with it. DSI solid state disk does not work with EMC's PowerPath.

I don't have Fibre Channel, can I attach your solid state disk?

No. The time has come for you to leave the SCSI direct attached storage model. If you need the speed of solid state disk, you more than likely need the speed of 4Gbit Fibre Channel. Fibre Channel is as simple to install and connect as SCSI yet offers better performance, reliability and networkability.

Do I need a special driver or software to install your solid state disk?

No. The DSI solid state disk will work with your operating system's built-in disk handling drivers and host bus adapter firmware.

Can I boot my operating system from solid state disk?

In most cases, it is possible to boot your operating system from solid state disk depending on the operating system and the host bus adapter. If you can currently boot from SAN, then you can boot from the DSI solid state disk.

Do I need to modify my RDBMS software to work with the DSI solid state disk?

No. Your database software does not care if data is stored on different storage systems just like it does not care if different files are in different volumes. It will adapt to the configuration without modification.

Using Solid State Disk Systems

How do I decide what data should be stored on solid state disk?

All frequently accessed data should be stored on solid state disk. Different customers take different approaches to this. In database environments, it is usually easy to identify the most frequently accessed tables or database components (by using tools such as Oracle's Statspack). Once the frequently accessed files are identified, they can be stored on the DSI solid state disk just like they are currently stored on another disk based system. Some customers get the most out of their solid state disks by constantly archiving off older data to slower RAID systems. Some customers only store database partitions with the last (days, weeks, months, years) worth of data. Some customers only move logs, indices, temporary tables, etc. In all cases, the goal is to only put frequently accessed data on solid state disk. For more details, please contact a DSI storage specialist.

Do I need to store the entire database on solid state disk?

No. Dynamic Solutions International advises customers to only move their most frequently accessed files, tables, etc to solid state disk. For some customers, this means putting the entire database in solid state disk.

My database is several terabytes in size and your biggest solid state disk is 128GB how can this possibly help me?

Most of our customers are able to use small solid state disk configurations (16-128GB) in order to store the most frequently accessed tables from multi-terabyte databases. Industry experts suggest that only 3-5% of your total data is frequently accessed. This is the data that should be on solid state disk. For some companies, a 128GB solution is still not big enough.

What kind of applications are the DSI solid state disk used for?

The DSI solid state disk is not limited to any specific applications. Historically the DSI solid state disk has been implemented to increase performance and system utilization in areas such as online transaction processing, file system metadata acceleration, database systems, batch processing, non-linear video editing and testing/benchmarking.

Purchasing Solid State Disk Systems from DSI

How long has Dynamic Solutions International been in business?

Dynamic Solutions International was founded in 1973 and is on its eight generation of solid state disk based systems. The company is not venture backed and operates without debt.

Do you have any competitors?

Yes. There are many manufacturers of solid state disks; however, our real competitors are the other methods IT managers use to try to solve I/O performance problems (buying new servers, adding processors, adding memory, buying cached RAID, adding spindles, and application tuning).

Do you sell DSI solid state disk systems in my country?

Almost certainly, unless you live in a country that is prohibited from buying technology products from U.S. companies. Even more importantly, because of our relationship with Unisys and Kodak, our solid state disks can be supported in most global locations. Please check with DSI for availability.

What kind of support and warranties do you offer?

DSI solid state disk systems ship with a one year return to factory warranty.

Do you offer leasing options?

Dynamic Solutions International can work with our sister leasing company to provide you with competitive leasing rates.

Can you help me determine if I need solid state disks?

We have developed a number of tools and methodologies to assist our customers and help determine if solid state disk is a good investment for your application. We will help you analyze operating system, database and application performance data to look for I/O bottlenecks. Please contact us at 303.754.2000 and have one of our storage specialists assist you.

How do I buy a solid state disk?

Please call us at 303.754.2000 and ask for DSI storage specialist or complete web form to have a DSI representative contact you.

Tape Systems

With so many different tape technologies available, how do I select a system that is right for me?

When choosing a new tape technology, you have to first determine the requirements of your backup application. Will the tape system be used for backup, or will it be used as secondary storage where rapid recovery is a requirement? Will you be backing up small quantities of data once or twice a day or will the tape system be in constant use? When choosing a tape technology it is not only important to be concerned with the cost of the drive but also consider the roadmap of the technology, price of the media, maintenance costs and reliability statistics. Dynamic Solutions International sells a technology for every budget and application offering 4mm, SDLT and high performance LTO.

With virtual tape available, why do I need real tape?

Virtual tape systems can not service all of the requirements for deep archive of data. Traditional tape, with its infinite expandability will allow you to grow your storage one cartridge at a time. Virtual tape systems are limited to the space available in the disk array. Traditional tape can also be carried and stored off site. Tape systems come in many different technology types with different form factors and automation configurations. Dynamic Solutions International sells stand alone, autoloader and library tape systems with either SCSI or Fibre Channel options to attach to servers or storage networks.

What kind of tape technologies does DSI offer?

DSI tape systems are currently offered in DDS5 4mm, SDLT320, SDLT600, LTO2HH and LTO3 configurations.

Can I monitor the DSI tape system from my network?

Yes. Many of the DSI tape automation systems are available with GUI management support.

Tape System Interoperability

Will DSI tape systems work with my operating system?

Our tape systems are tested with many operating systems including: Windows, Linux (Red Hat, Suse), Unisys, and many Unix releases.

Will DSI tape systems work with my backup package?

DSI tape systems are tested with many backup systems including: Symantec, Legato, CA, Backbone, etc.

Will virtual tape work with my Host Bus Adapter or Switch?

If a host bus adapter company (ATTO, Cambex, Emulex, LSI Logic, QLogic, Unisys) or server manufacturer makes a FC host bus adapter to support open systems, then odds are we will work with it. If a switch company (Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, McData, QLogic) makes a Fibre Channel for open systems environments, then odds are that we will work with that switch also.

I don't have Fibre Channel, can I attach your DSI tape system?

Yes, the DSI tape systems also come in SCSI configurations so that you can leverage your existing infrastructure. If you need additional speed or cabling distance, some of the DSI tape systems also support Fibre Channel which is as simple to install and connect as SCSI yet offers better performance and configuration capabilities.

Do I need a special driver or software to install a DSI tape system?

No special drivers are required. DSI tape system work with standard device drivers provided by HP and Quantum.

Do I need to modify my backup software to work with the DSI tape?

In many cases no. Your backup software does not care what technology the data is stored on.

Purchasing Tape Systems from DSI

How long has Dynamic Solutions International been in business?

Dynamic Solutions International was founded in 1973 and has been supporting enterprise tape systems since the days of the round reel. The company is not venture backed and operates without debt.

Do you have any competitors?

Yes. There are many manufacturers of tape systems. However, our 33 years in the storage business and the fact that we also have our own backup and media management system for mainframes leaves us uniquely qualified to handle the requirements of a mission critical backup environment.

Do you sell DSI tape systems in my country?

Almost certainly, unless you live in a country that is prohibited from buying technology products from U.S. companies. Even more importantly, because of our relationship with Unisys, our tape systems can be supported in most global locations. Please check with DSI for availability.

What kind of support and warranties do you offer?

DSI tape systems ship with a one year return to factory warranty.

Do you offer leasing options?

Dynamic Solutions International can work with our sister leasing company to provide you with competitive leasing rates.

How do I buy a DSI tape system?

Please call us at 303.754.2000 and ask for a DSI storage specialist or complete our web form to have a DSI representative contact you.

Software

General

With so many different backup software packages available, how do I select an application that is right for me?

When choosing a backup and restore application, you have to first determine the requirements of the application. Will the application be used for backup, or will it be used as secondary storage where rapid recovery is a requirement? Will you be backing up small quantities of data once or twice a day or will the tape system be constantly active. Do you have any database structures that can not be shut down and must be backed up while they are still hot? When choosing a backup software package it is not only important to be concerned with the cost of the application but also consider the corporate or regulatory polices that must be addressed, flexibility options, maintenance costs and ease of use. Dynamic Solutions International sells a backup application for every budget and requirement offering Symantec BackupExec and NetBackup as well as our own TapeManager for Unisys mainframe environments.

What is DSI TapeManager?

TapeManager is the media manager for Unisys MCP and MCPvm systems. TapeManager is host based software which tracks all backup media, both real volumes and virtual volumes in real time. DSI TapeManager works in conjunction with DSI LibraryManager to control virtual or physical tape library systems.

What is DSI LibraryManager?

LibraryManager is the robotics handler for Unisys MCP and MCPvm systems. LibraryManager is host based software which communicates through an appliance, DSI LibraryController, to control virtual or physical tape library systems.

What is DSI LibraryController?

LibraryController is a Windows based appliance which translates robotics commands from LibraryManager for MCP and MCPvm based virtual or true automated tape library systems. LibraryController is available in LVD, HVD and Fibre Channel configurations for connectivity to any MCP or MCPvm qualified system.

Will TapeManager control an automated environment?

Yes, TapeManager works with DSI LibraryManager to control an automated library environment or virtual library environment, allowing tapes to be moved in and out of drives and library systems.

Will the backup software handle both virtual and real tape simultaneously?

Yes, the backup applications provided by DSI will allow you to use both virtual tape and real tape systems in conjunction with one another, thereby allowing you to move data to either virtual or real tape depending on corporate policy or regulation.

Backup Software Interoperability

Will DSI TapeManager work with my operating system?

Our DSI TapeManager media management application works with only Unisys MCP and MCPvm hosts. DSI TapeManager will not work with other operating systems including: Windows, Linux (Red Hat, Suse), Unisys OS2200 or any UNIX releases.

Will DSI LibraryManager work with my operating system?

Our DSI LibraryManager robotics management application works with only Unisys MCP and MCPvm hosts. DSI LibraryManager will not work with other operating systems including: Windows, Linux (Red Hat, Suse), Unisys OS2200 or any UNIX releases.

Will DSI backup and robotics management system work with my virtual or real tape drive or library?

Our DSI management application software is designed to work with all Unisys MCP and MCPvm qualified tape drives and tape library systems including DSI and StorageTek library systems

Will TapeManager work with Unisys TapeStack and Encryption?

Yes, DSI TapeManager will work with the Unisys TapeStack product allowing you to automate the tape stacking and encryption process. TapeManager will provide management for all media including virtual and real tape and media stored in a library and on or offsite. TapeManager also provides key management for Unisys TapeStack Encryption.

Will Symantec work with my operating system?

Yes, Symantec backup applications are designed for open systems and are tested with many operating systems including: Windows, Linux (Red Hat, Suse), and many UNIX releases.

I have a Unisys MCP environment and an open systems network, can I use TapeManager to manage both environments?

No, TapeManager is for use on Unisys MCP and MCPvm systems only.

I have a Unisys MCP environment and an open systems network, can I use LibraryController to manage both environments?

No, LibraryController is for use on Unisys MCP and MCPvm systems only. If you want to share a virtual or real tape library resource, the system must be capable of partitioning or zoning.

Purchasing Software from DSI

How long has Dynamic Solutions International been in business?

Dynamic Solutions International was founded in 1973 and has been supporting enterprise tape systems since the days of the round reel. The company is not venture backed and operates without debt.

Do you have any competitors?

Yes. There are many backup application providers. However, our 33 years in the storage business and the fact that we also have our own backup and media management system for mainframes leaves us uniquely qualified to handle the requirements of a mission critical backup environment.

Do you sell DSI software in my country?

Almost certainly, unless you live in a country that is prohibited from buying technology products from U.S. companies. Even more importantly, because of our relationship with Unisys, our software can be supported in most global locations. Please check with DSI for availability.

How do I buy DSI software?

Please call us at 303.754.2000 and ask for a DSI storage specialist or complete the web form to have a DSI representative contact you.

Case Studies

"They have the best technical guys I've ever come across. When they explained how a virtual tape library (VTL) could help our situation, I believed them. Since they installed the VTL system, it's worked flawlessly..."

FAQ's

Questions? Get answers about our virtual tapes, tape systems, and software. Learn more about our products and what will work best for your company.

Contact Us

For more information or if you have questions about our products and backup solutions, please contact us:

Toll Free: 800.641.5215
Direct: 303.754.2000



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