Maxxan has added virtual tape products to its product range, hugely reducing the time it takes to do backups and to restore data.

The new SVT200 blade slots into the chassis of Maxxan's MXV320 director, and is termed an intelligent application card. The SVT100 is a standalone product that can integrate with existing SAN switches or be used on its own, for example, in remote offices.

Writing backup files to tape is slow compared to writing them to disk. A 100GB backup, for example, would take several hours to write to a tape drive - often too long for business with systems active for most of the day. By writing the data to disk first, and then onto tape at a company's leisure, the backup period is shortened dramatically, from hours to minutes. A virtual tape system means the company's existing backup software doesn't have to change.

Both Maxxan products use FalconStor's IPStor virtual tape library software and support most backup products including those from CA, HP, Legato, Veritas and IBM's Tivoli. LTO, SDLT and StorageTek 9840 tape drives are emulated. ADIC, HP, IBM and StorageTek tape libraries are supported.

Arun Taneja, consulting analyst and founder of the Taneja Group, said Maxxan's new products represent an intersection of two trends: the movement of intelligence into storage fabrics; and the use of disk to buffer and speed up tape-based backup.

Brocade's Fabric AP7420, for example - an intelligent SAN switch, but not a director - has an Alacritus virtual tape facility available.

The market appears to be moving toward intelligent SAN switches and directors that incorporate storage applications such as virtualisation, mirroring and virtual tape, and work with a range of server operating systems.

Maxxan products are supplied in the UK through Computacentre. The SVT100 is priced from $39,000 (£20,900) in the US and the SVT200 from $34,000 (£18,200). UK prices are so far unavailable.