I've begun working on a new course for Train Signal. I'm working on the next course in their System Center series of courses. This time, it's Data Protection Manager 2010 that's being discussed. One of the goals in these courses is to make it possible for the person watching the course to be able to replicate as closely as possible the lab configuration so that they can follow along at home. These days, while it still costs money, it's not too hard to procure a server or two that's pretty beefy – with lots of RAM and lots of disk space. However, for a course like DPM, that's not quite enough. Instead, in order to gain the full effect of the learning, a tape drive is necessary. How many people have a tape drive of any kind sitting in their home lab? I don't, and I really don't want one.
So, something else needs to be done to meet the need. It's actually enough if the DPM software believes that it has a real tape drive to work with so that viewers can make use of the disk to disk to tape options that are available in DPM and truly understand all of the features.
Enter StarWind's Virtual Tape Library software. The VTL software emulates a tape drive and, after the installation process is completed, presents itself to the DPM server as such.
Now, for testing, I don't need to buy a tape library but more importantly, neither do the people that will eventually watch the course when it's finished.
In a more practical sense, use of a tool like this virtual tape drive mean that organizations can move their existing backup services into virtual machines without having to worry about attempting to maintain the use of a physical device that requires special hardware. While it is possible to use physical tape libraries inside virtual machines, there are often availability tradeoffs that must be made. StarWind's VTL eliminates these tradeoffs.
I'm pretty excited about using this tool in my Train Signal course and can certainly see major benefit for organizations that want to go all-virtual.