NetApp extends de-dupe beyond backups

Posted on May 17, 2007

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By Kevin Komiega

—Data de-duplication has, to date, been relegated almost solely to the role of a space-saving technology for backup solutions. But Network Appliance has a broader view of where the technology can and should be applied in storage environments.

To that end, NetApp has taken de-duplication beyond backup and extended it to archival, compliance, and primary storage by announcing the availability of its A-SIS (Advanced-Single Instance Storage) de-duplication technology across the company's NearStore and FAS storage systems.

Based on real-world tests, NetApp officials claim users can achieve a de-duplication ratio of up to 20:1 using A-SIS, with the possibility of even greater ratios over time.

A-SIS de-duplication has been in use for approximately two years, but was previously only available to users running Symantec's NetBackup software. Now the same technology can be deployed across a range of platforms and applications.

"End-user interest in de-duplication is very high right now," says Dave Russell, research vice president at the Gartner IT consulting firm. "The next turn of the crank is figuring out how to cost-effectively get more disk into the equation."

However, Russell says that data de-duplication is still most effective when applied to the backup process, and end-user adoption of A-SIS for a wider range of applications will depend on how vendors such as NetApp articulate the message to users. "NetApp is not suggesting this is positioned for high-performance applications like OLTP," says Russell. "There will probably be a good percentage of customers that will not appreciate de-duplication initially since it is baked in as one more feature in the box."

NetApp is taking steps to ensure customers kick the tires on A-SIS by making it available as a free license or, in some cases, for a "nominal" fee.

"There is a lot of interest in de-duplication because it saves on capital costs, power, and cooling costs, and reduces the number of people required to manage storage. We believe the technology should be broadly applicable and not just limited to backup applications," says Ravi Thota, Network Appliance's director of product marketing for data and storage management.

A-SIS de-duplication is available for NetApp's FAS and NearStore R200 platforms as a new feature in the Data ONTAP operating system. NearStore customers can obtain a free, downloadable license via NetApp's Website, while FAS customers will have to pay a fee of 1% to 2% of the overall cost of their FAS system to use A-SIS software.

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