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Monday, April 06, 2009
I've been on the road the past few weeks as part of our Simpana 8 seminar series, and it's clear that everyone wants to reduce the amount of data they need to store, protect and manage. What's less obvious: how to go about it and how to ensure both short- and long-term cost savings.
If you listen to Data Domain and other dedupe appliance vendors, you'd think deduplication is the ultimate cure. Sure, dedupe is white hot these days and most IT shops feel compelled to kick the tires in validating the dedupe value prop. You can alleviate a lot of pain by eliminating redundant copies of data, that's for sure.
For many early adopters of Data Domain and other dedupe appliances, however, the pain relief doesn't last long enough; it's a bit like taking Tylenol for a toothache when what you really need is a root canal. The same can be said of first-gen dedupe appliances, which aren't powerful, scalable or flexible enough to be the end-all, be-all solution vendors tout.
Once the "appliance" pain reliever wears off, you realize something is missing. Could it be that Data Domain appliances are painfully slow on recovery? Or could it be that deduplicated data isn't preserved when archiving to tape, which requires time-consuming re-hydration? (By the way, does anyone really believe tape is completely going away? Or that Oswald really acted alone? I promise to cover at least one of these topics in an upcoming blog, so stay tuned.) Or could it simply be that costs quickly outpace the original value assumptions as soon as you scale beyond a couple boxes?
While dedupe is an absolutely necessary technology in reducing data to lower storage costs, HOW you go about doing it can make a big difference in terms of how much space you actually save. A smarter approach embeds deduplication in the data movement software–the "source" you might call it–as backup and archive software vendors control the "source copy" and therefore have the benefit of being both "content" and "application aware."
By living in the backup and archive software as a feature, embedded deduplication also offers functionality that extends across all backup and archive data sets and storage tiers, including disk and tape, as well as all data types, sources and platforms. The benefits are clear and compelling: broader scope of data reduction, faster recoveries, reduced network impact and more tiers of storage. And, the deduplicated data stays deduplicated when it is archived to tape. Ask some of the appliance dedupe vendors if their magic box can do that?
Software-based deduplication is better optimized for both data ingestion and recovery, yielding up to 50 percent faster restores than its appliance-based predecessors. That's because data reduction begins at the source, aka the client, and remains all the way to tape for long-term, low-cost archive storage. Deduplication with tape is a big plus as it reduces the footprint for long-term vaulting or compliance copies by up to 90 percent. In contrast, Data Domain's bold "tape sucks, move on" marketing mantra conveniently (for them) dismisses tape altogether in their overarching preference for disk-based backup, recovery and retention. I think this view, which other providers of first-gen dedupe appliances also take, fundamentally ignores the truth. As one of my colleagues recently told me, when you have a one-trick pony, it's a good idea to keep the blinders on.
What do you think? Do you think it's realistic to not include tape as part of a dedupe system? Are you ready to be locked into a rigid approach? What kinds of problems could global, embedded deduplication software solve for you?
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