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Partner TechTip: Virtual Tape Technology (VTL) Can Eliminate a Lot of Tape Headaches

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Crossroads' SPHiNX and Robot/SAVE team up to automate your IBM i backup solution.


For years, many of us have wondered when tape technology would become a thing of the past. Many data center managers have dreamt of the time when there's no need for tape racks, offsite tape storage, and media couriers. They have wanted to eliminate operator intervention for media errors, out-of-tape issues, locked tapes, and active file errors. 


In the world of IBM Power Systems, Help/Systems has been preaching lights-out computer operations for years. Many of our customers have been very successful, despite the limitations of tape technology, usually with the help of Automated Media Library (AML) devices and tape stackers. Yet the number one automation issue we hear about is tape drive errors. These errors keep many data center managers awake at night, worrying that they need an operator on site, "just in case."

The Next Step: Virtual Tape Backups

So, here's some good news: virtual tape technology is now more affordable and is adaptable to IBM Power Systems. A Virtual Tape Library (VTL) eliminates the need for manual tape handling and tape couriers (the server "thinks" it's dealing with a tape drive; in reality it's working with a disk drive).


With disk-to-disk backups, you avoid the hassles of manual tape mounts and mechanical moving parts. That means increased reliability and fewer problems. Just think of how many backups have aborted over the years because of media errors, drive failures, or tape issues. And, because tapes can be eliminated with a VTL solution (though you do have the option of maintaining tape backups), issues such as incorrect tape mounts, silos running out of tapes, backups being accidentally canceled, courier security, accidents related to off?site transport, and accidental overwrites also disappear. A VTL solution facilitates automation, makes data recovery easier, converts old tape formats, encrypts data, replicates data across a network, helps remove media errors, and increases the speed of backups and recoveries.

The Affordable Power of SPHiNX

SPHiNX, from Crossroads, is a dedicated virtual tape appliance for IBM Power Systems that dramatically reduces the costs of backup and recovery solutions to a fraction of the cost of other VTL solutions. These are some of the benefits:


  • SPHiNX can convert old tapes into a modern format to help you decommission your old technology.
  • You no longer need to use a local IBM i server to duplicate data for off?site storage, making it a very affordable HA solution.
  • SPHiNX provides both hardware encryption and replication for backups to help meet auditor requirements.
  • There is no need for tape mounts to back up or restore data.

A Comprehensive Backup and Recovery Solution

SPHiNX integrates seamlessly with the Robot products, and there are more benefits:


  • Robot/SAVE handles volume tracking, audit requirements, rules, and more as it teams with SPHiNX to provide complete, automated backups and recoveries.
  • Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise works directly with SPHiNX to schedule and run backup and recovery procedures across Windows, UNIX, Linux, and IBM i servers.
  • With Robot/REPORTS and SPHiNX, you can quickly view online any of the reports that you currently print for auditors or financial staff. You can also store them securely, yet make them easily accessible for distribution anywhere.

A Solid Return on Investment

For any new technology, you must examine the Return on Investment (ROI). When you combine SPHiNX with any of the Robot products, you can really reduce your costs. First, you can eliminate the cost of tape; paying up to $100 per tape can add up quickly. Second, you can remove both the cost and security issues of using a courier to transport tapes to and from your off?site storage facility. Finally, as you remove old devices that you currently maintain for regulation purposes, a lot of your maintenance costs disappear. That all adds up to a quick ROI.

Learn More

If you want to reduce your backup costs and improve the availability of your systems, if you currently maintain old data for regulations, if you need to encrypt data and replicate it easily, or if you run mission-critical applications, the team of SPHiNX, Robot/SAVE, Robot SCHEDULE Enterprise, and Robot/REPORTS can bring the freedom from tape you've been looking for. Click here to learn more about Robot/SAVE and SPHiNX. And check out Help/Systems' other offerings in the MC Showcase Buyer's Guide.



Tom Huntington is Executive Vice President of Technical Solutions at HelpSystems, and has been with the company for nearly 30 years. He works with business alliances, acquisitions and large customer relationships and ensures that the HelpSystems software works with other major software and hardware vendors worldwide.

Tom often speaks on enterprise scheduling, security, automation topics, IBM i technology, and the HelpSystems products, and hosts technical presentations on a variety of automation topics. He is the author of the HelpSystems IBM i Marketplace Survey and has written articles on automated operations, security, cloud computing, and business intelligence for leading trade journals and newsletters. He was named an IBM Champion in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 for over three decades of advocation and thought leadership on the IBM i platform.

Contact Tom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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