Company builds virtual tape library out of low-cost Open E-NAS software

Building a disk-to-disk backup solution on a budget can be easier then you think. At my company we built a model disk-to-disk backup that streams to tape over a local fiber-loop offsite to our head office. We needed to find a storage system that was cheap and reliable. Since many entry-level NAS systems are basic x86 hardware, we decided to build our own NAS solution to be used as a virtual tape library.

I found a software solution that's a simple plug-and-play Linux-based OS embedded onto an IDE storage card. Called

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Open-E NAS, it allows for several configurations and even LAN-free backup with several of the top players in backup software.

I was worried about its performance, but so far it's doing a great job (it's been up for six months). We have 4-gig interfaces teamed together for a HA model split to multiple switches -- the software even supports HA clusters within the enterprise product.

All and all, we were able to build a 2TB useable NAS for backup with redundant failover for tens of thousands of dollars less then even entry-level NAS heads. Standardizing on run-of-the-mill server hardware, we ended up building this model for just a few thousand dollars. Ironically, this is the same hardware that many of the new players of entry-level storage have been supporting under the hood.

I would definitetly look at this solution in the future again; after all, it's storage for staging backups, it doesn't need to be tier-one or even tier-two storage by any means! This hooked right into our Active Directory and was a seamless fit. This product will remain on my radar.

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This was first published in March 2005

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