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EMC's Slootman: No data deduplication for Disk Library virtual tape library

EMC's backup division president Frank Slootman says Data Domain will be the vendor's lone disk target deduplication platform, with Disk Library serving strictly as a VTL.

PHOENIX -- After buying Data Domain for $2.1 billion, EMC Corp. made former Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman president of its data backup and recovery division.

We caught up to Slootman at Storage Networking World for his first extensive interview since the acquisition closed, and discussed how EMC will position its two data deduplication backup platforms, why Data Domain's dedupe won't be sold with Disk Library or other traditional EMC hardware, and why the Quantum Corp. deduplication OEM deal is history.

SearchDataBackup: What products are in your division?

Slootman: Avamar, NetWorker, Disk Library and Data Domain. The group has about $1.25 billion in sales annually.

SearchDataBackup: EMC has sold Quantum's data deduplication software with Disk Library. Will you sell Data Domain software with Disk Library instead?

Slootman: No. Disk Library is a straight VTL [virtual tape library] , like it always should have been. It's a brute-force system, no finesse. That's the way it was when it first came out, then they tried to turn it into something it is not by adding deduplication and replication. They bastardized the product, so much so people don't even know what a VTL is anymore. People think VTL is a generic term for backup to disk. People think Data Domain is a VTL, but 90% of the systems we sell are IP-connected, not with a Fibre Channel protocol.

SearchDataBackup: How do you position your two deduplication plays, Avamar and Data Domain?

Slootman: EMC's holding all the key technology in this space with the two best [deduplication] products in the market by far. It's a question of source versus target. [Avamar] is an application play, [Data Domain] is an infrastructure play. We have a couple hundred customers that have both Data Domain and Avamar, so they can play together. Data Domain is found more in the core, Avamar is more on the edge as a replacement for traditional data backup software.

Disk Library is the most popular VTL. Let it be a VTL, it's very good at it. If you want deduplication, use Data Domain.
Frank Slootman
president, backup and recovery systemsEMC Corp.
Avamar's big paydirt is every backup is a full but has the workload characteristics of an incremental. So every backup takes as much time and as much stress as an incremental, but you get a full backup. Backups complete very quickly. The second benefit of that is there's not a lot of data to move; it does incremental, then it deduplicates the incremental. It's really the next generation of a backup architecture, especially for server virtualization and backups on the edge. The use cases where Avamar doesn't make a lot of sense is when you have to read a large amount of data. In those instances, Data Domain is like you hook up the fire hose.

Avamar is idiot-proof as backup software, much more like [Symantec] Backup Exec. It doesn't have moving parts -- there's no media server. You have clients and you have storage. Fire up the clients, and they write to the storage.

SearchDataBackup: If Avamar is the future of data backup software, where does that leave NetWorker?

Slootman: Well, Avamar is augmenting NetWorker in a lot of places. People are moving a good part of their workload to Avamar, but not all. They're still running applications like big, fat databases on traditional backup software. NetWorker can support conventional backup on tape and mixed media and people can integrate it with Data Domain.

SearchDataBackup: What about the Quantum software EMC has sold with Disk Library?

Slootman: We're swapping a lot of those boxes out at zero revenue. We've taken out about a dozen and we'll continue to take out a similar number this quarter. Customers don't want it.

SearchDataBackup: So I guess you won't sell any more?

Slootman: No. Why dig more holes?

SearchDataBackup: How do Disk Library customers get dedupe?

Slootman: Disk Library is the most popular VTL. Let it be a VTL, it's very good at it. If you want deduplication, use Data Domain. How hard is that? People still need virtual tape libraries, not everybody is into deduplicating storage. Disk Library will have a feature to migrate data to Data Domain.

SearchDataBackup: But if Disk Library customers want dedupe, they have to buy a Data Domain box?

Slootman: Yes. If you have a car and now you want an airplane, are you going to put wings on your car? You have to buy an airplane.

Data Domain's deduplication is built into the product and inline. No post-process junk. Post-process deduplication takes all day to land the data for backups. I'm on the beach having a margarita before they land the data on disk.

SearchDataBackup: Will Data Domain software be sold with any other EMC storage?

Slootman: My storage is EMC storage. Why sit in front of a Clariion? This [Data Domain] is the finest EMC storage money can buy. We're so highly tuned for our workload, our deduplication is not separable from our file system. That's why it works so well, it's not bolted on.

SearchDataBackup: Any plans to use Data Domain dedupe for primary data?

Slootman: There are no moves afoot there.

SearchDataBackup: Will you continue to work closely with Symantec Corp.'s OpenStorage (OST) API now that you're EMC?

Slootman: Yes. I'm not throwing my partners under the bus. We'll compete, but we're all competitors and partners these days. We won't screw them. We'll screw other companies, like CommVault. We treated them as a good partner and they came after us.

SearchDataBackup: You seemed happy in May when NetApp tried to buy Data Domain. Any regrets about how the bidding war ended?

Slootman: EMC is the right company. EMC is able to run us as a separate division. That would've been difficult for NetApp. They would've had to go after synergies on the cost side.

SearchDataBackup: Why not go to EMC first?

Slootman: I didn't go to either company first. NetApp started everything. EMC contacted us when we were under NDA with NetApp. We didn't talk to EMC because we would lose the deal with NetApp if EMC came in then, and the deal would've gotten done at a lower price.

SearchDataBackup: You've always said EMC was the major competition for Data Domain. Who's your competition now?

Slootman: IBM first, and Hewlett-Packard. Coming into the EMC orbit, our competitive landscape changed.

SearchDataBackup: Will you need global deduplication to continue to beat IBM and HP?

Slootman: You've heard my rant on this. Data Domain controllers are so big and fast, they are global in that way.

SearchDataBackup: Will you be able to keep all the Data Domain resellers under the EMC banner?

Slootman: A lot of our resellers were NetApp resellers. We're working on getting them to sell under EMC. But everybody's still running under the Data Domain program anyway until January. I'm expecting to get a lot of lift in the channel from EMC.

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