EMC gaining ground in data deduplication

A regional bank and national cable television network scope data deduplication systems and choose EMC products to streamline their backups.

With one technology it picked up in an acquisition and another that it got through an OEM deal, EMC Corp. is making a big push into the data deduplication game.

A regional bank and national cable television network are among the companies that recently turned to EMC for dedupe to improve data backups after evaluating products from other leading dedupe vendors.

Banking on dedupe

Republic Bank last fall installed two EMC Disk Library (EDL) 3D 1500s, one in its Louisville, Ky., corporate office and another at a disaster recovery (DR) site. Each EDL has 7 TB of capacity, and the bank replicates data between them. The bank also uses EMC Avamar software to back up data at 45 remote offices in Kentucky, Indiana, Florida and Ohio to an Avamar Data Store device in the corporate office.

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The EDL 1500s use deduplication software from Quantum Corp. that EMC sells through an OEM deal. EMC acquired Avamar for its dedupe software in 2006.

Republic runs Avamar agents on each remote server, deduping data locally before sending it back to the Avamar Data Store. The dedupes are global, so data stored on multiple remote servers only get sent once to the corporate office.

Although the bank isn't an EMC storage system customer, it turned to EMC to fulfill its strategy of getting rid of tape and streamlining backups. Vice president of infrastructure services Dave Richerson says the bank had "numerous backup packages," and relied on users at the branch offices to swap out tape. Now it only keeps some data it needs to retain for compliance on tape, but "95 percent of our data is tapeless."

Republic considered CommVault and Symantec Corp. Backup Exec for backup and Data Domain and Quantum for dedupe disk targets, but went with EMC for host and target backups even though it uses Xiotech Corp. for storage. The bank also uses EMC NetWorker for backups in the main office, and chose EMC largely because of common management of the dedupe products.

"We control all backups in one management interface," Richerson said. "We don't need multiple interfaces for local and remote backups. NetWorker controls Avamar and EDL."

Vice president of technology services Sean O'Mahoney said Republic gets about an 8:1 dedupe ratio on his EDL boxes, deduping about 24 TB written to the EDL down to about 3 TB. "I was absolutely floored," he said. "I hadn't been exposed to dedupe before, and I was blown away by the dedupe ratio."

Dedupe a 'no-brainer' for cable network

The director of storage services for a national cable network says he was expecting outstanding dedupe ratios, and got them after installing three EDL 3D 3000s with 36 TB each last year.

The director, who asked not to be named because of a company policy against publicly discussing products, says his Unix group gets a 74:1 dedupe ratio backing up one development system -- crunching 248 TB to 3.3 TB. He reports an 18:1 dedupe ratio on a Windows production system, reducing a 203 TB backup to 11 TB.

"We didn't have to be sold on dedupe," he said. "We knew our data would dedupe incredibly well. It was a no-brainer that we were going to do this."

Although his network is an EMC storage shop, the admin had to be sold on EMC for deduplication. He also looked at systems from Data Domain and FalconStor and determined all would perform well enough but EMC cost the least. He wouldn't disclose the price, but said it was less than the $500,000 he would have spent to upgrade his Quantum Scalar i2000 tape libraries from LTO-3 to LTO-4.

While he stressed dedupe ratios and performance were the key features he needed, he would like to see better reporting from the EDL. "It does not have a great reporting structure," he said. "There are lots of reports I would love to get, like what is deduping better than anything else, what are the performance bottlenecks, and should I be moving stuff around."

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