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Dell lays out data deduplication plan

Dell plans to incorporate Quantum's data deduplication software into its PowerVault and EqualLogic storage products and resell EMC's DL3D products.

Dell Inc. revealed plans to keep up with the data deduplication craze that's swept big vendors this year by integrating offerings from Quantum and EMC into its disk storage platforms.

Dell was vague on its product plans, and it won't have any of these data deduplication products until next year, said Brett Roscoe, senior manager of product marketing, but the vendor wanted to let it be known it will enter the data reduction market.

"What we're going for is driving some compatibility across deduplication solutions," Roscoe said. Dell's plan is to integrate Quantum's data deduplication software stack with its PowerVault and EqualLogic hardware, and provide a common management framework for multiple Quantum deduplication repositories at multiple sites, including EMC's DL3D line.

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The Quantum software includes the StorNext file system, network attached storage (NAS) and virtual tape library (VTL) presentations, policy-based data deduplication (with a choice of inline or post-process dedupe modes) and integrated tape creation. Dell will also offer replication software from Quantum to "provide LAN or WAN efficient disaster recovery solutions by only replicating and maintaining unique block-level data from backup or archive operations within or across sites," according to Dell's announcement.

EMC has three models in the DL3D line, all of them based on Quantum's DXi offerings. The highest end model, the DL4000, is based on a combination of EMC, FalconStor and Quantum IP. It has not been determined which DL3D products Dell will offer or which vendor's software interface would be the basis for multisite management, Roscoe said.

Dell also recently launched the TierDisk product line for secondary storage with the PowerVault DL2000, a combination of Dell's MD1000i systems and either Symantec's Backup Exec 12.5 or CommVault's Simpana 7 software. The data deduplication integration with the PowerVault product line will look similar, Roscoe said.

How will Dell's expanding storage partnerships affect technical support?

While the partnership with Quantum would mark another deal to bring in third-party IP for secondary storage, "You will see development of unique products in the secondary storage space," Roscoe said. "Dell doesn't do a lot of software development, so on that side we tend to work with industry leaders."

Folding in data deduplication software for EqualLogic's PS Series arrays will probably involve a server or multiple servers acting as a deduplication gateway within the clustered array architecture, though Dell hopes to hide that complexity from customers. "Our intention is to have a solution you can go out and buy for EqualLogic," Roscoe said. "We're not going to expect our customers to go out and get a separate gateway to put in front of existing EqualLogic arrays."

Burton Group analyst Drue Reeves said the deal may also be partly about patching up a strained relationship with EMC. The two companies had pledged to "get back on track" after Dell sales of EMC Clariion systems declined, said EMC CEO Joe Tucci during his company's most recent earnings call. The dedupe deal could have involved only Dell and Quantum without pulling in EMC's DL3D line.

But a three-way deal brings more channel conflict than a simple partnership and could add to confusion about service and support, Reeves said. "But Dell is used to these things," he added, referring to Dell's relationships with companies like EMC and Microsoft. There are existing Dell customers who will want data dedupe support on existing Dell Clariion deployments.

A Dell spokesperson wrote in an email to that, "Dell will provide a full range of dedupe services from presales consulting to full product maintenance and support," but did not get into specifics.

Dell previously certified ExaGrid's diskless iSCSI deduplication gateway with EqualLogic's iSCSI SAN for secondary data dedupe storage in April. That product has been offered through mutual channel partners and has not been rebranded by Dell. This offering and partnership will not change for the foreseeable future, the Dell spokesperson said.

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