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Corporate Cloud Embrace Exposes 3 Deduplication Appliance Shortcomings

Over the last 20 years deduplication appliances have become integral components in the backup strategies of many organizations. However, as more organizations implement hybrid clouds, they need to re-examine the role that deduplication appliances play in them. While these appliances work well on-premises, they possess specific weaknesses that become more apparent when performing cloud recoveries.

The Corporate Embrace of Cloud Storage

Almost every company without exception expects to adopt the cloud in some way. Yet of all available cloud offerings cloud storage represents the one most will embrace first.

Corporate Cloud Embrace

Cloud storage meets many of their most pressing concerns. Many companies store backups off-site to satisfy regulatory requirements plus it sets the stage for them to perform disaster recoveries. Others want to use cloud storage’s data immutability feature to mitigate ongoing ransomware concerns. Still others view cloud storage as their most viable option for long-term data retention citing its durability, resilience, and scale.

These reasons help explain why 84 percent of companies stand poised to increase their use of cloud storage.[1] They want a simple, secure, cost-effective way to store their growing amounts of archival and backup data. At the same time, they want to offload the complexities and overhead of managing storage to someone else. Cloud storage aligns well with these current corporate priorities.

Many companies first move and store their archival and backup data on cloud storage. While sensible, companies must take steps to mitigate cloud storage’s ongoing monthly costs. One of these steps often entails storing their archival and backup data in a deduplicated format in the cloud. Unfortunately, companies will find deduplication appliances from existing hardware providers lack the cloud flexibility they may want and need.

Cloud Shortcomings of Deduplication Appliances

Companies can readily find deduplication appliances from multiple providers that support storing multiple petabytes of data on cloud storage. However, storing petabytes of data on cloud storage represents only one consideration associated with using deduplication appliances.

The caution in using these appliances stems from their lack of flexibility when it comes to usage in the cloud. In every case, companies will find deduplication appliances possess the following three limitations:

  1. Hardware dependency. To obtain all the software functionality that a deduplication appliance offers, companies must acquire it in a physical form. This may create a dependency to introduce a physical appliance into the provider’s cloud either initially or at some future point. This will not work. Cloud storage providers are very reluctant to deploy hardware that they do not own and manage into their data centers. None of the major cloud storage providers currently permit third-party deduplication appliances.
  2. Limited choice and feature set if hosted on cloud VMs. Hardware deduplication providers often only run their software on their hardware. If they do run their software on hardware other than their own, they only allow it on virtual machines (VMs) offered by cloud providers. Even then, the deduplication hardware providers may only support hosting their software on a few approved cloud VMs. Further, these VMs offer a reduced set of the deduplication appliance’s software features.
  3. Cloud storage extension. This option represents the most common way hardware deduplication appliances offer access to the cloud. They extend the ability of their physical appliance to store deduplicated archival and backup data on cloud storage. Yet if, and when, companies need to recover, they face a dilemma. They can use the appliance to perform on-premises data recoveries. However, they may find they cannot easily recover this data in the cloud since they cannot place a physical deduplication appliance there.

These three concerns exemplify why companies should consider a change to their data deduplication strategy. Hardware deduplication appliances do grant them access to cloud storage. However, it limits their options if they need to perform a recovery in the cloud. These cloud limitations make it imperative that companies adopt a data deduplication strategy that utilizes a software-defined storage (SDS) deduplication solution.

Embracing Cloud Storage Requires an SDS Deduplication Solution

Of the many available offerings from cloud providers, companies have clearly embraced cloud storage for practical reasons. It provides them access to durable, highly available, resilient, and scalable storage for their archival and backup data. Further, cloud storage remains affordable over time if companies deduplicate the archival and backup data they store on it.

However, companies that deduplicate data stored on cloud storage must do so thoughtfully. Deduplication appliances provide options to store deduplicated data on cloud storage. However, storing deduplicated data on cloud storage represents only one half of the equation. They must also think about the environments into which they may need to recover deduplicated data.

Companies that consider all their backup and recovery requirements quickly see the need for an SDS deduplication solution. Storing deduplicated data on cloud storage only gets them so far. They must also select a data deduplication strategy that positions them to recover both on-premises and in the cloud. Only certain SDS deduplication solutions satisfy these new cloud recovery requirements.

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[1] Wasabi’s 2023 Global Cloud Storage Index. Smith, Andrew. Pg. 3.  Referenced 3/27/2023.

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