Feature

Software vendors expand data deduplication offerings

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You can add data deduplication to your backup operations with an appliance, VTL or target array -- but backup application vendors offer software-only alternatives.

Backup redesign and data deduplication have remained hot in the storage market this year, even in the midst of our economic woes. But just offering data dedupe as an add-in feature isn't enough anymore; vendors are also coming to market with ever-finer differentiations as the technology becomes ubiquitous in backup operations.

In 2009, six companies -- Acronis Inc., Barracuda Networks Inc., CA, CommVault Systems Inc., IBM Corp. and Symantec Corp. -- have either added or expanded data deduplication in their backup software. CommVault threw down the gauntlet first with the announcement of data deduplication for Version 8 of its Simpana backup software in January. Simpana 8 also introduced a unique ability to dedupe data to tape.

CommVault's approach looks to cut down on the number of tapes it will take to restore an individual file by having users specify a predefined retention window. If that window is 30 days, the index with reference data for that 30-day period is stored on each tape so data can be restored from just one tape. At the end of the retention window, a new index is created.

CA's ARCserve Backup Version 12.5 offers users the option of "re-inflating" data before it's stored on tape or copying deduplicated full backups directly to tape. Incremental deduped backups

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like CommVault's aren't supported by ARCserve -- only a full backup, which must first be restored to the media server, can be copied to tape in its deduped form.

"We don't think that during a [tape] recovery of an incremental data set is the time to be rehydrating data," said Don Kleinschnitz, senior vice president of engineering at CA.

Four routes to data dedupe

Data deduplication can generally be implemented in a backup system in four different ways:

1. In-line appliance (e.g., Data Domain Inc.'s DDX product line, IBM Corp.'s Diligent ProtecTier)

2. Target backup disk array (e.g., ExaGrid Systems Inc.'s EX series, NEC Corp. of America's Hydrastor)

3. Virtual tape library (e.g., Sepaton Inc.'s S2100 series with DeltaStor, Quantum Corp.'s DXi-Series)

4. Backup application software (see "Backup apps with dedupe," next page)

This was first published in September 2009

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