Is it possible for a server to connect to tape drive over the network if the tape drive is physically connected to another server?

Hi Everyone,

I have a server that has a tape drive physically connected to it and the server has some backup software installed. This backup software is used daily for disk-to-disk backups and sometimes tape backups. So I cannot uninstall the backup software or stop the services if I want to trial another backup software product.

I would like to install the trial software product on a second server and if possible have that second server to connect over the network, to the tape drive physically connected to first server. Is this possible through Windows or using any tools on the internet?

My intention is to allow the first server to continue its disk-to-disk backups and use the second server to do a tape backup. The easiest option is probably to unplug the tape drive and plug it into the second server but the second server does not have the right SCSI interfaces for the tape drive. So I would like to use the second server to connect over the network to the first server's tape drive.

Can you please put more information about the tape drives. Make and Model for them? Also which backup software you have now and which one you are going to try?

Can you please put more information about the tape drives. Make and Model for them? Also which backup software you have now and which one you are going to try?

Tape drives are can't be "owned" by two different systems at once -- however, most any business backup application (other than the basic single-server or small office apps) allows you to set up a "backup server". The backup server typically has the tape drive(s) or library attached to it, and agents are installed on the other servers (or desktops) in the environment. Depending on which backup application you're using, you may or may not have to pay for the agent on the second server.

A scheduler is part of the backup server. When it's time for a backup on some other system to start, the backup server communicates with the agent of the remote machine and tells it to start sending the data. The backup server receives the data (over TCP/IP) and writes it to the tape drive, preserving the necessary metadata.

The remote system will never control the tape drive attached to the backup server.

There is another architecture, commonly implemented in medium enterprises, called a Storage Area Network or SAN. In this case, the tape library and its drives are connected by Fibre Channel to a Fibre Channel (FC) switch, not directly to any particular machine. In this case, there is a backup application that "owns" the tape library, and it controls access by the other servers to that library (these other servers still have backup app agents loaded on them). A "media agent" on the various servers will ask the access controller of the backup application for permission to use a particular tape drive, and if given permission, will then directly connect to that tape drive and begin writing to or reading from it. When it completes its operation, it closes its session on the drive, and hands control back to the Cell Manager (for Data Protector) or CASO (for Backup Exec), etc., so the drive can be used by another system.

Because of the complexities involved in coordinating multiple server's access to a shared tape library, the SAN or Shared Storage Option in a backup application is typically more expensive than the simple backup server licensing, but it provides a great deal more functionality, and since the data path is directly from a server to a tape drive (i.e., data path does not go through a backup server), there's a lot less traffic on your IP (Ethernet) network, and this can be an important consideration.

Thanks for explaining in detail.

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