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Backup gets a boost: Hot Spots

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Deduplication
An increasing reliance on disk and the rising volume of data to be protected are two developments that make data deduplication so enticing. The economics of applying disk in the backup process further improve with deduplication. The technology's ability to eliminate redundancy in secondary storage processes optimizes network and storage resources.

By capturing, transferring and storing less data in the backup process, organizations can back up more data to disk--retaining data on disk for longer periods of time or enabling disk-to-disk backup for more sets of data than before. Reducing data capacity also aids in better network bandwidth utilization.

For remote offices and branch offices (ROBOs), reducing or eliminating the reliance on a tape backup infrastructure in favor of disk can introduce cost savings mainly around tape media handling. Deduplicating data aids in the transfer of data between ROBOs and the data center and/or increases local storage capacity. In the data center, the impetus may be enabling recovery from disk vs. tape to meet RTOs, or replicating data to a remote location to facilitate a disk-based DR strategy. And then there are the challenges created in server virtualization environments, as server virtualization increases the amount of data and files that would normally be kept on a single physical server. Backing up virtual hard disk images

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may impact network traffic, the backup window and storage capacity.

Early adopters have implemented deduplication more often in target storage systems--including disk-to-disk appliances and virtual tape libraries (VTLs)--mainly due to the ease of implementing the technology in existing backup environments. However, several backup applications now include data deduplication as a feature. Source-side deduplication in the backup application's client agent and/or media server offers a few advantages over target-side deduplication, including a reduction in LAN, WAN or SAN traffic, as well as distribution of the deduplication workload across multiple nodes in the backup environment.

The data protection market continues to evolve with new products and features enabling more optimized backup and recovery. This progress means some vendors could be left behind, as evidenced by the tape-based to disk-based backup transformation in most organizations.

Most recently, leading backup vendors have acquired or developed advanced technologies and more tightly integrated them into existing backup platforms. The integration of snapshot, CDP and deduplication is amplifying the value proposition set forth by backup vendors and calling into question the need for standalone technologies. For example, the inclusion of data deduplication as a feature in popular backup products is a competitive threat to deduplication vendors. However, this should translate to improved backup options for your IT shop.

This was first published in August 2008

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