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But the deduplication reports from the FalconStor appliance showed how much redundant data was being eliminated before backup. Armed with that information and some off-the-shelf storage management tools, Watkis now regularly scans his servers for redundant files and has recovered 40% of the space on his 16 TB storage-area network (SAN). Those savings are critical since he had to cut his storage budget by 20% in fiscal 2009.

Joseph Stedler is senior engineer and Dallas data center manager at External IT USA Inc., a managed service provider based in Richardson, Texas. For data deduplication, he considered both a Data Domain Inc. appliance and Veeam Software's Veeam Backup & Replication software, which combines deduplication and backup for VMware ESX virtual servers. Despite its much higher cost, Stedler said, he went with the hardware-based Data Domain appliance because of its higher performance and the ability to replicate data among his various data centers.

The host-based deduplication provided by EMC Corp.'s Avamar has received "a lot of favorable feedback" from Gartner customers, said Roger Cox, research vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., as have target-side deduplication products from Data Domain, Diligent Technologies Inc. (which was purchased by IBM Corp. last year) and Quantum Corp. (which is OEMed by EMC).

David Floyer, chief technology officer and co-founder of the Wikibon project, an online IT support community, said NetApp's

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data dedupe is aimed at primary, rather than backup, storage as is the case with other vendors such as Data Domain, and can save 30% in the cost of disk. In calculating total ROI, however, Floyer warns that because the data must still be "rehydrated" to its original state before being used, customers still need enough storage controllers to assure the proper IO and bandwidth for critical applications. This lowers the overall cost savings, he said, from 30% to 15%.

Users need to look out not only for overall reduction ratios, but for how long it takes a product to compress or deduplicate data, and then return it to its original, readable state, said Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group in Stillwater, Minn. Saving huge amounts of space isn't much good if you can no longer work within your backup or restore windows, he noted.

This was first published in September 2009

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