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"The vendors will do capacity estimates and they're pretty good," says ESG's Whitehouse. Adventist Health's Aubry, for example, asked Data Domain and ExaGrid to size a deduplication solution. "We told them what we knew about the data and asked them to look at our data and what we were doing. They each came back with estimates that were comparable," says Aubry. Almost two years later the estimates have still proven pretty accurate.
When Philadelphia law firm Duane Morris LLP finally got around to using Avamar Technologies' Axiom (now
When deduping a mix of applications, Thomas Weisel Partners experiences acceptable ratios ranging from 12:1 to 16:1. Similarly, data the company doesn't keep very long isn't worth deduping at all. Unless the data is kept long enough to be backed up multiple times, there's little to gain from deduplication for that data.
Magnum Semiconductor's Wunder quickly spotted this trap. "We looked at Data Domain, but we realized it wouldn't scale. At some point we would need multiple appliances at $80,000 apiece," he says.
Adventist Health got lucky. It made a decision based on lengthy onsite meetings with engineers from Data Domain and ExaGrid. Based on those meetings and their internal analysis, it opted for ExaGrid. Once the decision was made, Adventist Health's Aubry called Data Domain as a courtesy. Data Domain wouldn't give up and offered to send an appliance.
"I was a little nervous I might have made a wrong decision. We put in both and ran a bake off," says Aubry. ExaGrid was already installed on Adventist Health's routed network. It put the Data Domain appliance on a private network connected to its media server.
"I was expecting Data Domain to outperform because of the private network," he says. Measuring the time it took to complete the end-to-end process, ExaGrid performed 20% faster, much to Aubry's relief as he was already committed to buying the ExaGrid.
Just about every consumer cliché applies to deduplication today: buyer beware, try before you buy, your mileage may vary, past performance is no indicator of future performance, one size doesn't fit all and so on. Fortunately, the market is competitive and price is negotiable. With the technology-industry analyst firm The 451 Group projecting the market to surpass $1 billion by 2009, up from $100 million just three years earlier, dedupe is hot. Shop around. Informed storage managers should be able to get a deduplication product that fits their needs at a competitive price.
This was first published in September 2008