FalconStor's iSCSI Storage Server has been upgraded to improve its disaster recovery facilities. It now offer users backup, archive and restore across an IP Network link as well as offering its existing file and block level storage.

Users can nominate files on host servers' drives to be backed up on a remote site. The disaster recovery site can support one or several hosts. Only the changed data is backed up, after the first full backup, making subsequent backups faster. Enterprise Storage Group analyst, Peter Gerr said; "Delta replication is very efficient (allowing) you to transfer the minimum of data across the network."

FalconStor's iSCSI Storage Server can also copy files and folders to local iSCSI storage, based on settable policies. An entire local disk can be mirrored to the iSCSI storage. The software runs on Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2003. The backup is to disk, which means that restoration is at disk, rather than tape, speed.

Microsoft's take on this is that "businesses of all sizes (will be able to) do more with less," according to Claude Lorenson, a Microsoft technical product manager. This backs up the 'iSCSI storage is cheaper' point of view.

The main benefit of iSCSI storage is that storage area network facilities are provided to hosts over Ethernet instead of Fibre Channel. Proponents say that it is cheaper to buy and maintain Ethernet networks than Fibre Channel fabrics and switches.

The FalconStor move will help iSCSI storage suppliers better compete with the longer-established Fibre Channel SAN products. Such competition should drive down SAN storage prices.

The FalconStor product does actually support Fibre Channel-connected drives. It also routes traffic across two or more storage paths to balance the traffic load, and can automatically fail over from a failed iSCSI Storage Server to an active one in a cluster configuration. Snapshotting facilities are available for groups of virtual drives, as is a disk storage capacity-on-demand feature, whereby virtual disks only use up physical disk drives as data is needed to be written to them.

Falconstor supplies OEM customers and storage resellers. End users will get these facilities if they buy an iSCSI storage product using the new FalconStor software. Such products cost around $6,000 (around £3,500 at current conversion rates). They should check that their host servers, particularly Unix ones, work properly with such products.

FalconStor has also signed up Copan, supplier of MAID storage, to offer its virtual tape library software. Copan offers massive arrays of disk drives, most of which are idle to conserve power and reduce heat when not needed. This enables Copan to pack many more drives into an array than other suppliers.