Deduplication now focusing on primary storage


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IT managers have become as obsessed with reducing the amount of redundant data in their storage as Americans are with reducing their waistlines. But this trend has been focused mainly on secondary storage--backup and archiving apps, where most of the redundant data lives in storage infrastructures.

A handful of vendors are trying to take duplicate data out of primary storage even though there's a lot less redundant data in primary (tier 1) storage than in secondary storage. So data reduction ratios in primary storage will be much lower than the 15:1 or 20:1 ratios common when deduping secondary storage. "But you'll be getting a lot more bang for the buck because tier 1 disk is more expensive," says Eric Burgener, senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group in Hopkinton, MA.

But as the use of virtualization increases, more and more virtual machines are running on one physical server. This creates multiple instances of OSes and apps, which in turn will increase the level of redundant data on expensive primary storage.

The next question is: When data reduction is performed on primary storage, is it still dedupe or something else (usually compression)? One could claim that, at the file level, Microsoft Office offers some kind of generic dedupe functionality, according to John Matze, VP of business development at

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Hifn, which makes card-level data reduction accelerators. But "that's a partial dedupe that exists in Microsoft's file system," which he calls "poor man's data deduplication."

"Deduplication is well-suited for static, redundant data, but it's not well-suited for primary storage," says Peter Smails, VP of worldwide marketing at Storwize, which began shipping a primary storage data reduction appliance in 2005.

This was first published in November 2008

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