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Demystifying data deduplication

Alex Scroxton

When it comes to data deduplication technology the opportunities for resellers are clear - provided they present it and match it to their customers' needs effectively.

Data deduplication has moved from emerging technology to a fast-growing market. By marrying "dedupe" technology with disk, data protection has taken a stride forward by enabling disk to be applied for backup as cost effectively as tape.Add replication technology to the mix and resellers can approach remote disaster recovery in an entirely different light too.

Deduplication addresses deep-seated customer pain points, coming at a time when IT managers must store and protect growing volumes of data and be able to recover it quickly. This represents a great opportunity for resellers, since customers need help to properly understand deduplication and position it as it relates to their environment and requirements.

Resellers looking to position deduplication technology should, broadly speaking, group solutions into one of three types:

Software-only offerings

Standalone backup software products that dedupe as they backup. These can often replicate deduped data across the WAN. For backing up and moving backup data across the WAN from smaller remote offices, these solutions generally resonate well with customers in terms of price and performance. It should be noted that they may require replacement of existing backup software.

Appliance-based approaches

By combining embedded deduplication and replication software with on-board processing power and storage, appliances offer high performance and non-disruptive installation. Generally seen as disk by backup software, appliances might be too expensive for smaller remote offices, but their performance and scalability advantages position them strongly for datacentre applications and datacentre-based replication.

VTL augmentation

Virtual tape libraries enable large enterprises to alleviate backup window timing issues by "caching" backup data to disk before offloading to tape, with the added advantage of requiring few changes to backup software. With the introduction of deduplication capabilities, resellers can offer customers the speed of VTLs and delayed deduplication as an offline process.

Replication is usually not built into these solutions, which should generally be positioned at the high end of the price and performance scale.

To maximise sales, the channel should also be familiar with backup versus restore performance, varying compression rates as they relate to backup policies and data types, data integrity and backup verification capabilities, and required software licensing costs (for either disk backup or VTL licences from the backup software vendor). Conducting pilot trials and presenting customer references and proof of concept can be essential to a successful sales process.

Kevin Platz is managing director, EMEA sales, at Data Domain


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