The Hot Topic of Deduplication

Rarely does a day go by at DCIG when deduplication is not mentioned in some context. Instead of storing every chunk of data, deduplication removes redundant data and stores unique recording data just once across the network. Offering up to 20x reductions in data, data deduplication directly equates to lower backup storage costs for almost any size data center as less hardware is needed for storage backup.

Deduplication is available in numerous forms: in backup software, virtualization software, as well as purpose built physical deduplicating backup appliances. In DCIG’s recently released2014-15 Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide, it uncovered some interesting insight into these appliance as there is a healthy mix of old and new technologies.

Virtual Appliances. A new use case scenario, this Guide extends its coverage to include the growing number of  deduplicating backup appliances that are now available as virtual machines on the market. Instead of only making deduplication available on a hardware-based appliance, 3 of the 10 deduplication vendors listed in the DCIG 2014-1015 Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide now make deduplicating backup appliances available as virtual appliance: Dell with its DR2000v, Quantum with its DXI V1000 and V4000 and HP which introduced two virtual appliances over the past year, the HP StoreOnce VSA 4TB and 10TB models.

Virtual appliances most often come into play for in small, remote and branch office environments, especially in those offices that are highly or entirely virtualized. Instead of needing to purchase a hardware appliance, they may acquire a deduplicating virtual appliance at a lower cost that is also easier to install and maintain. Further, the software capabilities of the virtual appliance are typically the same as the hardware appliance. These virtual appliances support the leading hypervisors (Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESX) and can be installed on existing hypervisor servers.

Simplified Pricing and Selection. Vendors are also looking to simplify pricing and licensing. Licensing has long been a tricky issue and many companies now bundle the needed deduplication technology and other software offered as part of the appliance in the base cost of the deduplication appliance. Others have simplified their choices even further. Quantum recently consolidated its lineup of appliances and now targets different lines for midrange and enterprise data environments. In the midrange space, it offers the DXi 4700, in the enterprise space, it is the DXi6900.

Separating Storage from Controller.  EMC Data Domain also revamped its deduplicating backup appliance lineup by introducing the DD2200, DD4200, DD4500, and DD7200. Each of these is based on a data less head where the controller is sold with minimal to no storage. Existing or new storage shelves can be connected to the controller purchased.

Unbundling Software from Hardware. Physical deduplicating backup appliances have their plug-and-play benefits selling a single solution under on SKU though some providers are moving to separate the hardware and software sale. HDS’s and its Sepaton lineup of deduplicating backup appliances is one such example. HDS is working a purely high-end software deduplication solution with its VirtuoSO platform due to go GA in 1QCY15.

Sepaton recommended hardware configurations supporting the platform, however; VirtuoSO is deduplication and management software powering the hardware. Geared for scalability, VirtoSO will initially scale to more than 2PBs with each node starting at just 34TBs. Subsequently, it says the software will support up to 8PBs and 16PBs showing its intent on going into the high-end of the enterprise data center market.A surface level of  Sepaton’s appliance may prompt one to conclude they are similar to another. This is not the case. Even with set pricing scenarios, there are multiple options to make.

Customers still have many options for appliance management, hardware capacity, and deduplication itself. While many have moved away from purely comparing inline vs post process deduplication, each method still have advantages and disadvantages. Some add capacity by scaling up, others scale out and some do both. So sizing the appliance for today’s needs and tomorrow’s demands are important. Helping to set the direction, DCIG’s side by side comparison found in its most recent Deduplication Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide will certainly help in that endeavor.

The DCIG 2014-15 Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide is immediately available. Subscribing users of the DCIG Analysis Portal may access and download the Guide by following this link. Individuals who have not yet subscribed to the DCIG Analysis Portal may test drive the DCIG Analysis Portal for 30 days as well as download this Guide by following this link.

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Charley McMaster

About Charley McMaster

Charley McMaster is a Senior Research Analyst focused on the storage and data protection markets at DCIG. Charley covers DCIG’s Midrange Deduplicating Backup Appliance, and Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guides, with additional work in Integrated Backup, Hybrid Cloud Backup, and Virtual Server technologies.

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