IBM acquires Diligent for de-duplication

By Kevin Komiega

—IBM announced today that it has paid an undisclosed sum to acquire enterprise data de-duplication vendor Diligent Technologies in a move designed to plug a gap in its product lineup and bring de-duplication technology to the entire IBM storage portfolio.

According to IBM, the Diligent acquisition will be an important part of its new Enterprise Data Center model, aimed at improving IT efficiency and the rapid deployment of new IT services for future business growth. The new model is based on best practices for virtualization, 'green IT,' service management, and cloud computing.

Dave Messina, manager for IBM System Storage Business Development, says the Diligent acquisition fills a void in IBM's data-protection portfolio and will allow IBM to utilize data de-duplication technology in a variety of ways.

"The Diligent technology fills a gap in our portfolio and will allow us to apply data de-duplication in multiple places across the IBM portfolio, including in our hardware products, our Tivoli software products, and in services," says Messina.

Diligent develops inline data de-duplication software that is integrated with server and storage infrastructures to help organizations reduce the amount and cost of physical storage required in data centers.

The company's ProtecTIER product is powered by a technology called HyperFactor, which is based on a series of algorithms that identify and filter out elements of data that have been previously stored by ProtecTIER. The result is that only new data elements are stored on disk. Over time, the impact is data reduction ratios of up to 25:1.

ProtecTIER can reach speeds approaching 450MBps in production environments, while performing de-duplication in real-time.

To perform the de-duplication process, HyperFactor utilizes a RAM-based index that maps the entire contents and location of the disk target. The index can map up to 1PB of physical storage utilizing just 4GB of RAM on the ProtecTIER server, a 250,000:1 ratio of disk capacity to index memory.

The acquisition raises some questions about Diligent's partner relationships as the company's technology currently serves as the de-duplication engine for products from vendors such as Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Overland Storage, and Sun.

Messina says Big Blue plans to stay the course. "It is the choice of those individual companies, but our objective is to continue those relationships," he says. "We already have existing relationships with HDS and Sun, and we look forward to maintaining [the Diligent] relationships."

IBM's recent acquisition activity seems to indicate that the company has renewed its focus on storage. The company began the year with the acquisition of XIV, a maker of grid-based storage systems for fixed digital content and, just last week, announced a deal to buy continuous data protection (CDP) vendor FilesX.

"There is a focus at IBM that wasn't there six or 12 months ago," says Heidi Biggar, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group. "IBM seems to be re-energized. They are putting together the pieces of a storage puzzle that makes sense, and it is something we have not seen in a while."

Today's acquisition of Diligent shows that IBM is paying close attention to where storage customers are spending their IT dollars. According to data from industry research firm TheInfoPro (TIP), de-duplication is a hot technology. TIP's latest survey of Fortune 1000 enterprises revealed that 56% spent more on data de-duplication in 2007 compared to 2006, and that increased spending trend is expected to continue in 2008.

"This is a huge deal for users," says Biggar. "Diligent has its OEM relationships with HDS, Sun, and Overland, but now that they have access to the IBM sales engine they will be able to push their enterprise de-duplication technology out to a huge audience."

Diligent has approximately 100 employees and more than 200 customers. The company's employees will become part of the IBM System Storage business unit of the IBM Systems and Technology Group.

This article was originally published on April 18, 2008