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EMC World: Users focus on energy-saving green storage

As EMC updated its VTLs with data dedupe and spin-down drives, users at EMC World say they're in the midst of re-evaluating backup architectures with a focus on energy savings.

LAS VEGAS -- Storage users at EMC World said they'll evaluate EMC Corp.'s new data deduplication and spin-down drive technologies with an eye on energy savings.

On Monday, EMC rolled out disk libraries with data deduplication and spin-down drives. A sampling of EMC customers at the show found that their interest in those technologies is focused largely on a green perspective.

"As a utility, we need to show our customers that we can deliver and use energy efficiently," said Ken Williams, a storage systems engineer with a California utility. "We're still growing our infrastructure, and we're just starting to replace some older Symmetrix and Clariion systems. We're going to evaluate spin-down because anything we can do to make our IT department more green is attractive to us."

Marc Buracynski, technology solutions architect for ING, said his company is moving from an IBM services-based IT environment to an in-house EMC environment and is evaluating virtual tape libraries (VTLs). Buracynski said EMC's recent support for new 5,400 rpm 1 TB SATA drives is attractive for "low-yield" archival file storage, such as its Centera clusters or nearline retention of backups. The performance overhead of spinning drives down will keep that feature in the backup and archival category for ING.

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"We're interested in anything we can do to lower our energy costs," said an executive with a major government systems integrator. "We'd love to see deduplication for primary storage." While storage growth is not a new problem, the executive said it's only recently begun to spiral out of control. "We recently bought some storage that we thought would be sufficient for two years," he said. "We ran out of space for it in less than nine months, and that has a lot of financial implications because we didn't budget for it."

One storage engineer said his company is too concerned about performance to take on the overhead of the data deduplication process. "We haven't yet found a VTL that didn't have serious throughput issues for us," said James Howard, who works for a large Web hosting company. "We move a massive amount of data for backups on a weekly basis for clients and until very recently, the throughput on VTLs without dedupe might have put us in a bigger hole than we already were with tape."

Howard said his company is in "evaluation mode" on newer VTLs, but he considers data dedupe "a really nice, but not mandatory, requirement for us right now."

Some companies look to data deduplication to help with management overhead by reducing the number of systems in a given environment. But Howard said that for his company to take full advantage of dedupe, "We'd have to rethink our entire backup strategy in terms of which clients live where so we could have as much of the same data running through the system at the same time."

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