Nexsan is adding Falconstor's virtual tape library software to its high-capacity AutoMAID arrays.

The MAID arrays pack many more disks than usual into a rack enclosure by having most of them spun down at any one time, thus saving both heat and energy.

Falconstor's VTL software makes the array appear to be a tape library to backup applications, which read and write data at near-disk speed. Users can complete backups in a much shorter time than if they were streaming backup save sets to slower tape drives.

Currently tape libraries have a substantial cost advantage over disk arrays for storing data long-term. They can hold much more data in a rack enclosure because the tape cartridges are stored in closely packed together slots with only a few drives operating and generating heat.

By having drives spun down, Nexsan's AutoMAID (automatic massive array of idle disks) can pack up to 315TB into a rack enclosure and combine tape library-like capacity with disk-like access speeds and energy costs. Searching such disk-based archives is also a lot quicker than searching through hundreds of offline tape cartridges in a library. This makes disk-based archives more suitable for regulatory compliance functions.

Sun is reselling Copan's MAID technology arrays and is also using FalconStor VTL software in its VTL Plus product. Fujitsu is also using MAID technology in its Eternus line.

These are clear signs that MAID technology is becoming a stronger aspect of virtual tape libraries and will enable them to replace rack-mounted tape libraries where data access speed is paramount. Tape libraries that are in large enclosures, such as Sun's SL8500, still retain their huge data storage cost advantages though.