Deduplication has emerged as “the” quick fix for the myriad of problems associated with enterprise backups. Deduplication enables organizations to shrink backup windows, minimize their reliance on tape, and more easily and cost effectively replicate their backup data to an offsite location. But as deduplication has grown in popularity, so has the number of ways that organizations can chose to implement it in their environment.
There are now so many choices that when it comes to selecting the right deduplication option for your environment, the task can become quite daunting with the ramifications of making a wrong decision potentially very unpleasant in this current economic environment.
The major deduplication choices that enterprise organizations have to decide among include:
- Disk-based VTLs. These are disk devices that emulate of tape and deduplicate data either inline (while the backup is occurring) or post process (after the backup completes).
- Disk-based Backups. Similar to a VTL, the disk device appears as a file server to the backup software and creates a pool of disk that again deduplicates data either inline or post process.
- Backup Software Deployments. Implemented in this form deduplication occurs on the host backup server where the backup software application resides. As the backup data passes through the backup software, it is deduplicated.
- Client Side Deployments. This is the other major form in which deduplication is now available. Implemented this way, the host backup software agent deduplicates the data before it leaves the host.
The tough question that enterprise organizations need to answer however is, “Which of these deduplication techniques is the right approach for us?” The right answer for each enterprise organization will depend upon a number of variables but the feedback that DCIG consistently receives from enterprise shops is that they still plan to continue to adopt and grow their implementation of disk-based VTL’s, but not for some of the reasons they think.
There is a lot of “market-techiture” put out on the fact that VTLs require significantly overhead and time to deploy and maintain. While this may have been true in the past, many of the mundane tasks associated with VTL management have either been automated or are now built into the VTL products. Further, the main reasons that enterprise shops are still opting to stick with or bring new VTLs into their environment include:
- Can support multiple backup software products at the same time. This does not require organizations to swap out their existing backup software or standardize on one.
- No centralized IT infrastructure. Enterprise organizations want to centralize that backup data stores but have distributed IT departments. Using one central VTL enables all of them to store their backup data to one central repository while still maintaining their autonomy.
- Ease of implementation. Since VTLs look just like physical tape libraries to the backup software, there is minimal or no need to change anything in the infrastructure from an operational perspective while solving many of the backup problems that organizations are experiencing.
Of course, even when enterprises arrive at the conclusion that they want to proceed with the use of VTLs in their environment, they still need to make a decision about what enterprise VTL to use in their environment. In that regards, FalconStor is one of the early enterprise VTL players with a number of the big-iron vendors OEMing and/or re-badging FalconStor’s VTL software as their own.
The arguments for using FalconStor VTL in an enterprise role are numerous. It can scale the performance and capacity features of its VTL independently. Deduplication is performed in a post-process fashion so there is minimal or no impact to normal backup routines or backup windows initially or longer term. It can scale the CPU behind its post-process deduplication algorithm independently so as backup volumes increase, data can still be deduplicated in a timely manner. Finally, organizations can put whatever storage platforms behind the VTL that they like to store the backup data plus FalconStor provides a seamless integration of its VTL with its replication and file system products so enterprises can grow in these directions as internal needs dictate.
Even through deduplication may be a “quick fix” to enterprise backup problems, enterprise organizations should avoid the temptation to make an uninformed quick decision about their selection of a deduplication solution. Aside from the multiple ways to deduplicate backup data, enterprises also need to factor in how they are organizationally structured as well as which solution has the street credentials, back-end expertise and vision to support their environment and grow with them. In this respect, FalconStor delivers deduplication in the form that many enterprise shops want it (a VTL), offers the capabilities and support that they seek and provides a road map and platform that not only meets an organization’s needs Day One but can be grown and adapted as an organization’s backup infrastructure evolves.