StorageTek is readying a new FlexLine series of online systems, designed to provide customers with primary, business-critical and secondary, archival storage. The FlexLine FLA300 and FLX210 arrays will store transaction-intensive primary data. And the FlexLine 600 will archive data that isn't used often.

"StorageTek is trying to present itself as an information lifecycle management [ILM] company," said Nancy Hurley, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. "To do ILM you need to have disk, archive, primary tape and the software to manage it all."

The 2Gbit/s Fibre Channel FLA300 array has a 70 percent increase in I/O performance over the existing FlexLine FLA200 arrays. The FLX210, designed for smaller environments than the FLA300, contains 14 SATA drives and supports as many as 112 Serial ATA drives. It is part of the FLX product family that includes the mid-range FLX240 and high-end FLX280.

The FlexLine 600 is a lower-performing box than the FLA300, which is optimised to hold a lot of data. Containing an intelligent storage processor, the FlexLine 600 will use Serial ATA drives and will start at 3TB of storage. It could receive data migrated from either the FLA300 or FLX210 arrays.

Jeff Vetterick, vice president for Advanced Financial Solutions has StorageTek's FlexLine for storing the check images his company takes for banking customers. Because check images don't change but do need to be accessed frequently, Vetterick needs storage that is not only inexpensive, but from which customers can retrieve data quickly. "Any type of check imaging is very storage-intensive, and we are capturing thousands of records a minute," Vetterick says. "One scanner in fact captures 2,400 check images per minute running 24 hours a day."

Meanwhile, StorageTek also announced a virtual tape appliance that works with Windows, Solaris or AIX host computers. The Virtual Storage Manager (VSM), a disk-based appliance that emulates a tape library, saves floor space and lets data be retrieved more quickly than it could be from tape.

The VSM for Open Systems incorporates StorageTek's Serial ATA-based FlexLine 600 storage array with virtual tape software. Its capacity, which ranges from 4TB to 44TB of storage, can support three million virtual tape volumes and four Fibre Channel ports for attachment to the storage area network.

The VSM for Open Systems lets customers consolidate backup data to one system. An IT manager can create rules that specify how data is backed up and to which tape volume. VSM Open works with backup software from Veritas, Legato or IBM/Tivoli. It competes with EMC's Virtual Tape Library and Fujitsu-Siemens' CentricStor Virtual Tape Appliance.

The FLX210 starts at $10,000; the FLA300 at $15,000. The FlexLine 600 and VSM for Open Systems are expected to be available in the first half of next year.