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Your mileage will vary

As with all products, vendors will choose the ideal scenario for calculating how much storage they can save. In real life -- in your shop -- efficiency efforts may yield somewhat less-impressive results.

In his Dallas data center, External IT USA's Stedler has seen only a 7.5 times reduction in data vs. the 15 to 20 times reduction promised by Data Domain. But he said much of the difference is due to variations in the type of data he's deduping and that "overall, we're quite happy with its performance."

Rich April, director of network engineering at Boston-based health care provider Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, cited a recent conversation with a storage vendor that claimed it could reduce his storage needs by 60% to 80%. Those numbers assumed the data being deduped were mostly files; however, his older primary database environment "doesn't play nicely with these newer technologies," so he wouldn't get anywhere near those savings. He has, however, seen a 70% reduction in his backup data by switching from tape-based to disk-based backup of remote-office file shares using EMC's Avamar.

Among the factors to consider in deciding what savings you'll see are the amount and type of data in your environment; the capabilities of your existing storage network, controllers and arrays; and your requirements for application and backup performance. As StorageIO Group's Schulz said, when it comes to storage savings, "your

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mileage will vary" based on your specific environment. But with all the new and emerging ways to save on storage, the trip is well worth it.

BIO: Robert L. Scheier is a freelance technology writer based in Boylston, Mass. He can be reached at bob@scheierassociates.com.

This was first published in September 2009

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