Symantec NetBackup Takes the Deduplication Debate off the Table

With all the debates going on out there today about which vendor offers the best deduplication approach, one wonders, “How is a customer supposed to make the right deduplication decision?” Of course, any approach that demonstrates real-life space reductions ratios makes the technology worth purchasing. But even in this scenario, there are several different camps about the best way to deduplicate data and where the deduplication should occur. Should companies deduplicate data on the client; should they do it using in-line processing; or, should they deduplicate data using a post-processing algorithm?

Each of these approaches has its pros and cons so it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your backup and recovery environment. In fact, that’s really the point. It depends upon the backup goals and constraints for each server, and the problems you are trying to resolve so using any and all of these three deduplication options in your backup environment might make sense.

Now that Symantec has integrated PureDisk into its NetBackup product suite, companies can deduplicate data at any of these levels. In the past, PureDisk primarily solved the problem of backing up remote offices by deduplicating data at these locations but this new integration ratchets up the features available for your backup and recovery environment.

NetBackup has always given the companies the freedom to pick and choose whatever disk storage system they desire to use as a backup target. Now with the incorporation of PureDisk into NetBackup, that same freedom is extended to now place deduplicated data on whatever storage device that companies so desire without the requirement to choose a specific deduplication appliance. Further, in NetBackup 6.5, Symantec modified PureDisk so it does more than just deduplicate data on clients but it can deduplicate data anywhere in the backup stream according to where it makes the most sense in your backup requirements, all the way down to the application level.

For example, it makes sense to keep deduplication as a client side process for host systems that have either limited bandwidth to the media server or applications that consume minimal resources on the server during backup times, such as a departmental file or database server. The client approach is also attractive for heavily-consolidated virtual machine environments, to reduce the backup load on the consolidated physical servers.

After determining which backup clients require client-side data reduction, the next decision to make is which ones will benefit from deduplication at the media server layer. These clients are characterized as systems that have adequate bandwidth to the media server but have insufficient processing power to efficiently deduplicate backup data on their own in the time required. By directing the client’s backup stream to the media server, deduplication is off-loaded to the media server which deduplicates the data in-line as the backup occurs.

However, even this option may add too much time to the backup window of certain servers so PureDisk also includes an option to deduplicate data after the backup job is complete. Using this option, the backup to disk occurs to high-speed disk without interruption (i.e. – no slow down to deduplicate the data during the backup window) and PureDisk deduplicates the data using a post-processing algorithm. Regardless of which option or options that enterprise companies need, NetBackup allows companies to pick and choose which data reduction model that best meets a specific application server’s needs, be that host side, in-line or post-processing.

Incorporating PureDisk into NetBackup also compliments its existing capabilities to recover your application server data remotely without spending extra money for hardware and software to accomplish this. Using this solution, companies can now replicate deduplicated PureDisk backup data stores to a remote location without needing to change their existing backup processes or reconfigure their DR facility. Equally important during these tough economic times, replicating deduplicated data requires less bandwidth so companies many need smaller WAN pipes to handle data movement which could potentially lower recurring monthly costs.

Finally, lest we forgot, VMware is also supported by NetBackup PureDisk which is an environment that just screams for data reduction at the guest level, ESX Server level or both. Whether you are using NetBackup at the guest level, or incorporating it with VCB, the PureDisk option offers a huge reduction in space on the disk target, just based on the redundancy of files inside of VMware. Going with a guest approach offers the best of both worlds, as you enable guest based clients, you will greatly limit the amount of data and bandwidth you are using across your network, as well as saving critical bandwidth resources for the ESX server itself. This approach typically makes a lot of sense based on your deployment of VMs: the more standard images they have the more reduction you can achieve.

Companies can debate all day long about which deduplication approach is best but at the end of the day, in this economic climate, companies are looking to debate less and cut costs more. NetBackup PureDisk 6.5 takes the deduplication debate off the table and gives them the flexibility to select the most appropriate deduplication option regardless of the application. Symantec’s decision to incorporate PureDisk into NetBackup 6.5 capitalizes on NetBackup’s support of heterogeneous storage infrastructure while giving companies newfound abilities to deduplicate data at any level in their backup infrastructure.

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