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The advantages of data de-duplication technology

Storage Expo : 15 July, 2008  (Technical Article)
Overland Storage's EMEA Marketing Director, Chris James, takes some of the mystery away from data de-duplication and explains what it means for the future of storage, back up and disaster recovery
Data de-duplication technology is certainly the hottest thing in the world of storage right now, but what impact is it likely to have on the way IT managers buy storage in the future? With ever-increasing focus on business continuity and a raft of renewed environmental concerns, could data de-duplication be the answer the market has been waiting for?

We have been working with the technology for several years now, but it is still new in terms of commercial products; these have only emerged within the last three years. The real buy-in started about a year ago, in-line with market demands to reduce physical disk space, prompted in many cases by environmental and budgetary concerns.

The advantages of using data de-duplication technology are extensive. It facilitates more efficient usage of disk capacity, allowing for improved retention periods and recovery speeds. When used alongside a backup solution, the technology lowers the amount of required disk or tape space as it avoids storing duplicate copies of the same file, ultimately enabling IT managers to save money on hardware spending.

We have seen a reduction in the process of backing up to tape, with backup to disk on the rise. One of the main reasons for the move to disk for backups is the additional reliability it offers. While tape backups can fail over night and delay the entire process, disk offers increased efficiency, extra protection and more effective processes.

Having said this, the connection rate between the two mediums is increasing, with most customers buying disk in addition to tape. We are seeing a move towards customers using disk for backup and tape to hold the copies of data as they do not need to be up and running and fully accessible 100 per cent of the time.

The role of tape has therefore had to adapt to meet this shift. Since tape needs little power to retain data, it is an ideal medium for archiving which is becoming its primary function. Tape is approximately 100 times more energy efficient than disk in an archive which means it is the best choice for those concerned with environmental issues and reducing power consumption.

More than ever before, we are seeing our customers begin to adopt a tiered data protection strategy, in line with business continuity policies and efforts to be "greener". The next step is to extend a company's evolving tiered strategy by adding data de-duplication for easier access, faster restores and longer-term, near-line retention of backup data.

The remote backup space has also changed dramatically, as more and more companies now encompass remote offices. As a consequence, data de-duplication technology will have to expand in the near future to cover transmission over wide-area networks.

We understand that one size does not fit all, so the introduction of this technology has added yet another level of protection for customers seeking simplified, affordable long-term data retention on disk. Data de-duplication is a game-changing technology and we are excited about the changes we are seeing in the market.

Overland Storage is exhibiting at Storage Expo 2008 the UK's definitive event for data storage, information and content management. Now in its 8th year, the show features a comprehensive free education programme and over 100 exhibitors at the National Hall, Olympia, London from 15 - 16 October 2008
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