FalconStor rolls out NAS interface for data deduplication

FalconStor expands its data deduplication focus to the SMB market with a new NAS data dedupe appliance.

FalconStor Software, Inc. is rolling out a new NAS interface for its Single Instance Repository (SIR) data deduplication as an alternative to the virtual tape interface it already offers.

Analysts said this could expand the market opportunity for FalconStor data deduplication to small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), bringing it into heavier competition with current market-share leader Data Domain.

The product, which is not yet named, will become generally available in the first quarter of 2009. It swaps a CIFS or NFS interface for the virtual tape library (VTL) front end previously offered for SIR. The NAS interface, which is capable of receiving direct Oracle RMAN and SQL dumps, will expand FalconStor's portfolio to offer LAN-based disk backup, as well as the VTL's SAN-based approach.

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A NAS interface could also broaden SIR's addressable market beyond the VTL-centric enterprise and into the midmarket where tape and tape interfaces are less desirable, analysts said. "If you want to compete in the SMB and SME markets, you need a NAS appliance, period," said Stephanie Balaouras, senior analyst with Forrester Research.

However, this is hardly a new concept. Data Domain, Quantum, EMC, Hewlett-Packard and Copan offer NAS and VTL interfaces. ExaGrid and NEC have NAS-only data deduplication products, and NetApp sells NAS data dedupe with its NearStore system.

"Clearly, their first focus was on VTL, and they were one of the first with that [interface]," said Taneja Group analyst Eric Burgener of FalconStor. "They're coming to the game a little bit late, but this does open up some opportunity for them."

According to Balaouras, "Yes, there are already competitors there like Data Domain and ExaGrid, but the market is still in an expansion phase. There are plenty of channel and reseller partners to recruit and customers to win."

VTL convergence and global data deduplication planned

The product, available as a hardware or virtual appliance, is limited in its first release to a dual-node active-passive failover configuration for redundancy. It will also support multisite replication to a central NAS appliance. Active-active high-availability clustering and N-way clustering with global data deduplication for the NAS appliance will follow around mid-2009, according to FalconStor director of marketing Fadi Albatal.

FalconStor's roadmap also includes a plan to converge SIR repositories behind both VTL and NAS interfaces, and global replication with data deduplication among multiple sites. FalconStor is adding global replication to version 5.1 of its VTL product, but Albatal said testing and QA with the NAS interface and converged products would take more time.

The hardware-based NAS appliance will include replication and will be priced at $10,000 plus $3,000 per terabyte of storage. The virtual appliance will be priced at $3,000 plus $2,000 per supported terabyte with the option of replication for an additional $2,000.

Global replication with data deduplication for VTL

The new global replication feature for the VTL means that VTLs at remote and branch offices replicating to a repository at a central data center will be aware of what blocks have already been sent over the wire among all locations. The remote VTLs can send less data over the WAN by distributing lists of hashes that identify blocks in the data deduplication index among all sites.

In addition to global replication, FalconStor's VTL 5.1 supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 8 Gbps Fibre Channel ports, and new algorithmic enhancements in software that the company claims will boost overall performance of the system. According to internal tests using a Sun X4600 server with 32 GB of RAM and 16 processor cores, throughput over two 8 Gbps Fibre Channel links is now 1.5 GBps as opposed to a previous maximum of 1.2 GBps using three 4 Gbps links.

Among the software enhancements is a new "read-ahead" process which reinflates deduplicated data on the fly, boosting performance for operations, such as physical tape caching and restores from virtual tape. Writes to physical tape from the VTL no longer require reinflation and staging to another area of the repository before being streamed to tape, according to Albatal. Similarly, restores from virtual tape now show between a 5% and 15% performance impact. Albatal said that is an improvement, but did not give a specific comparison with version 5.0.

 

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