There can be eight of them in the device, giving a total capacity of 6TB and they are intended to replace tape backup devices. A FrankeNAS version can be divided into network-attached RAID storage and backup storage. The box comes with an embedded server running Windows Storage Server 2003. The disk drives are serial ATA (SATA) drives from Seagate and Hitachi with an up to 300Mbit/s transfer rate. Customers can use these Backup Appliances to hold a week, possibly a month's worth of data, and take the disks offsite for security.
The disk is fifteen times more capacious than Tandberg's RDX QuikStor or Dell's PowerVault RD1000. Both of these use a single drive into which an RDX 2.5in disk cartridge is inserted, holding up to 120GB.
In effect the IdealStor sales point is to use its kit and back-up 6TB on disk before you have to reload the appliance. With Dell and Tandberg you can only store 120GB at a time before loading a fresh disk.
Jeff Cobb, the IT manager at National Renal Alliance, has been an Idealstor client since 2004, and said: "When we first purchased our 8-bay as a replacement for our tape backups, 300GB disks were the largest capacities on the market. Over time our 2.4TB backup system has now increased to 6 terabytes and all we’ve had to do is purchase new disks as our data grows."
Customers can use IdealStor's own Ibac software to copy source files and subsequent changes to the appliance, using native file formats. Restoration is via simple Windows drag-and-drop rather than using a backup software product's restore process. Continuous data protection is offered via optional Ibac software.
IdealStor's channel manager, Ben Ginster, confirmed that Dell and Tandberg were competing vendors, and said: "We are glad to have them in the removable disk market. For the last four years Idealstor has been a (solitary) pioneer in removable disk backup. One of the biggest things people have said to us was that why don't other companies offer these types of solutions. Now we can point to two leaders in the tape world and show how they are now embracing a technology that directly competes with their tape offerings. Dell and Tandberg just increased the size of our software market."
The IdeaStor product is better than competing ones because "their product(s) only support laptop drives and places them in a proprietary cartridge. In addition their media is very expensive at this stage and judging by the way they are pricing their offerings, that seems to be their model. Lock people into a proprietary drive and force them to pay a premium. On Dell's website a 120GB disk is over $200. That's about what a 300GB 3.5in SATA drive costs."
With the Dell and Tandberg products the RDX cartridges are individually 'hardened' to withstand one metre drops onto a concrete floor. Ginster said: "As far as protecting these disks, we offer the caddy, protective carrying case, packed with anti-static foam, and encryption. When the disk is in the caddy and carrying case they more than handle a three-foot drop test.
"Because our appliances run Windows 2003 Server, we can use built in EFS (Encrypting File System) to encrypt the target drive or folder. We have companies like Sungard and the FAA that are using our solutions and disk reliability has never been a problem."