FalconStor has added support for the IBM AS/400 and active-active clustering in version 3 of its VTL (Virtual Tape Library) software. As well as connecting over Fibre Channel to AS/400 (iSeries) servers, this latest version of VTL can provide native NDMP backup for Network Appliance filers.

The company has also announced a series of Network Storage Server (NSS) appliances - ready-packaged sets of software, based on Linux, which hardware manufacturers can use to build storage systems for specific purposes.

The first NSS packages include Diskvault software for disk-to-disk backup and snapshots, plus Fibre Channel and iSCSI versions of the VTL. FalconStor says that a Diskvault appliance can also protect departmental servers and workstations by acting a network boot drive, should the primary boot disk fail.

Both Diskvault and VTL are derived from FalconStor's IPStor network storage services software. Initially positioned as general purpose storage virtualisation technology, IPStor is now promoted as an engine for achieving a wide range of specific storage networking tasks, says John Lallier, the company's technology VP.

"The concentration now is not on technology, it's saying: Here's a solution to a problem, such as replication or disk-based backup," he explained.

Lallier adds that IPStor's snapshot capability is particularly valuable, as it offers advantages over disk-to-disk backup or tape emulation. However, he warns that it may not be applicable to all systems as it requires integration with the application software.

"Even disk-based backup still copies the contents, so it takes time," he said. "Snapshot takes an instance, so it takes just a few minutes, and gives your backup process a frozen version to work with. You can also mount the snapshot directly.

"Snapshots need to be application-aware though, because if you don't co-ordinate with the application then when you restore the snapshot, the application will say it was not in a safe state and will insist on doing a system check."

FalconStor has already had some success at persuading manufacturers to build its software into storage systems, with EMC, HP and others using its VTL technology, and companies such as Acer and UK-based Evesham selling IPStor-based iSCSI disk servers. It now wants its partners to build NSS appliances too.