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Data reduction in primary storage (DRIPS!)

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As previously mentioned, SSDs are a great fit for space-reduction technologies, in particular data deduplication. Product offerings from Nimbus Data Systems Inc., Pure Storage Inc.,

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SolidFire Inc. and Whiptail Technologies Inc. all use dedupe to increase the effective capacity (and so reduce the effective $/GB cost) of their storage arrays. Savings vary by vendor and industry segment -- a space reduction of 5:1 is typical; however, Pure Storage claims savings of up to 10:1 based on real-world customer examples.

Finally, it’s important to note several startup vendors that are producing products specifically for virtual environments. NexGen Storage Inc. and Tintri Inc. have developed hardware platforms specifically optimized for virtual environments. Both support dedupe, which can result in significant savings where virtual machines are cloned from master images.

Not widely available … yet

Thin provisioning, compression and deduplication can result in significant savings in primary data storage utilization. However, as we’ve seen, to date only thin provisioning seems to have been widely adopted by the industry. Of the top vendors, only NetApp stands out as having embraced deduplication as a mainstream array feature. Perhaps there’s a reticence to introduce space-reduction technologies as it reduces the ability to maximize storage sales. But the latest wave of storage startups, with their concentration on using solid-state storage efficiently, are managing to produce products that have attractive ROIs when used in general shared-storage environments and they’ll be looking to displace storage from the big six vendors. DRIPS is here to stay; in some cases, perhaps, as a result of the deployment of new technology.

BIO: Chris Evans is a U.K.-based storage consultant. He maintains The Storage Architect blog.

This was first published in October 2012

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