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HP StoreOnce's first job is backup data deduplication

Hewlett-Packard has high hopes for its StoreOnce data deduplication software, but it faces stiff competition for Data Domain on the backup side; Dell also set to enter primary deduplication market.

LAS VEGAS -- Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. executives this week at HP TechForum 2010 revealed a grand plan to take over the data storage world with their new StoreOnce data deduplication platform, but StoreOnce will first have to prove itself as a data backup application.

StoreOnce is immediately available on HP's new D2D4312 disk backup appliance, and HP plans to add it to its XP9000 scale-out network-attached storage (NAS) product and application servers over the next year. "It's going to reset what data deduplication is all about," senior vice president of HP StorageWorks Dave Roberson said at a press conference to launch HP storage products.

That's a high bar considering the first data dedupe software hatched by HP Labs that runs on smaller D2D appliances has managed only single digits in market share. StoreOnce's initial role performing inline deduplication to a disk target puts it head-on with the current data deduplication backup champion, EMC Corp.'s Data Domain.

There are some spots where software dedupe is necessary and I'll use Data Protector for that, but for the data center, I'm sticking with the appliance approach.

Ron Cekala,
director of IT systems administration, Aramark Corp.

HP's overall plan for StoreOnce may not look unique a few months from now, because rivals are believed to be working on their own wide-arching data dedupe strategies. Permabit Technology Corp. and Ocarina Networks execs claim to have one large storage OEM deal apiece sealed for primary storage dedupe and are working on others.

Ocarina put out a press release today about its ECOsystem for OEMs software that hinted at a partnership with Dell. The release quoted Dell enterprise solutions and strategy vice president Praveen Asthana as saying "Ocarina's technology enables customers to get the benefits of data deduplication across a wide range of data types and storage environments, bringing them efficiency and simplicity."

Aramark dedupes with StoreOnce, Data Domain

Some storage administrators, such as Aramark director of IT systems administration Ron Cekala, will take efficient deduplication anywhere they can get it. Cekala said Aramark has used the D2D4312 beta with StoreOnce for about three weeks, and has had smaller D2Ds with HP's first-generation dedupe in five remote offices for 10 months. Aramark also has several large Data Domain appliances in its data center.

Cekala said he uses the D2D systems for Oracle and Unix systems, and Data Domain for Wintel servers. The food services and facilities management company has approximately 250 TB of data on three HP XP arrays, seven EVAs and several NetApp NAS filers.

Cekala said the smaller D2D boxes mostly back up file server data, holding about four months worth of data with reduction up to 25-1. "It's not the typical rate, but we've seen it get that high," he said.

While he said it's too early to judge the D2D4132 because it's not fully ramped up, he said "the numbers are looking promising so far. We're mixing data between Oracle and file servers and Unix hosts." If the performance stays high, Cekala said he would consider purchasing two D2D4312 – one for its Philadelphia data center and a second for a disaster recovery site.

But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll dump Data Domain. Cekala said he's happy with Data Domain, and gets reduction rates of from 10-1 to 15-1 with Data Domain appliances. He's been using Data Domain for three years, but said he picked HP's D2D boxes for his remote sites because they are smaller and less expensive than Data Domain's remote office appliances.

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Cekala said he's happy about HP's plan to add StoreOnce to its Data Protector data backup software. Aramark uses Data Protector for Unix and backs up Windows with CommVault Simpana. He said he doesn't use Simpana's data dedupe because "I feel that if there's an appliance that can do the job, I'll take the appliance approach. There are some spots where software dedupe is necessary and I'll use Data Protector for that, but for the data center, I'm sticking with the appliance approach."

Cekala said he's also interested in primary deduplication. "That's something we've always asked for, especially for VMware," he said. "I haven't seen anyone show me anything promising for high I/O storage." He said Amamark's VMware team considered NetApp's primary deduplication but hasn't licensed it.

While HP plans dedupe for NAS, HP StorageWorks marketing VP Tom Joyce said it will likely take awhile for primary dedupe with block storage. "Primary storage in other kinds of arrays [besides NAS] requires various degrees of work, and you have to consider what performance penalty exists," he said. "Some of the vendors' talk about deduplicating primary storage is a little irresponsible. Putting it in your ERP application in the center of the data center may not make sense."

HP does see deduplication making sense in enterprise data backup. Scaling to 48 TB, the D2D4312 is far larger than any previous D2D devices. It also supports Fibre Channel, NAS and iSCSI connectivity, making it more than just a remote office device. It may eventually overlap with the HP Virtual Library System (VLS) virtual tape library (VTL) appliances that use deduplication software from an OEM deal with Sepaton, although Joyce said, "We'll still sell the VLS for high-performance applications."

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