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Dell launches DR4000, its first backup deduplication appliance

Dell gets off the sidelines and into deduplication appliance backup game with the DR4000 based on Ocarina data reduction technology.

Dell today unveiled the DR4000, the vendor’s first internally developed backup deduplication appliance. Although a late arrival in the disk backup market, Dell is looking to compete with deduplicating backup targets from EMC Data Domain, Quantum and Hewlett-Packard.

The DR4000 uses inline deduplication and compression technology from Ocarina Networks, the data reduction startup that Dell acquired last year. Dell said it will ship the DR400 beginning this quarter. Customers can purchase the DR4000 with 3.6 TB raw (2.7 TB after RAID), 7.2 TB raw (5.4 TB post-RAID) or 12 TB raw (9 TB post-RAID). Dell claims logical capacities of 35 TB, 70 TB and 130 TB by projecting a 15-1 dedupe and compression ratio, although those ratios vary depending on the types of data that customers back up.

Dell claims an ingest speed of 1 TB per hour with an NFS interface and an ingest rate up to 4 TB per hour using Symantec OST, which the vendor plans to support soon after the initial DR4000 ship date. Pricing for the DR4000 starts at $11,750 for the 2.7 TB model. The software licensing model is all-inclusive, covering replication, OST and other features Dell may add down the road.

Dell briefly sold several models of EMC Data Domain dedupe boxes through an OEM deal, but the end of the Dell-EMC relationship last October left the vendor without a product in the lucrative disk backup market. Dell still sells entry level PowerVault server systems with either Symantec or CommVault backup and deduplication software, but had nothing in the midrange or enterprise. The DR4000 will serve as Dell’s SMB and low-end midrange offering. Mike Davis, Dell’s director of marketing for NAS and backup, said the vendor will scale up into the enterprise eventually. If Dell moves into the enterprise, it will explore adding Fibre Channel virtual tape library (VTL) interfaces.

The DR4000 will compete directly with the EMC Data Domain DD160, Quantum DXi4000, Hewlett-Packard D2D StoreOnce, and ExaGrid’s EX Series.

Davis said Ocarina’s software had to be tailored for backup to work with the DR4000. Before Dell bought Ocarina, its software reduced primary storage data. Dell is selling Ocarina-based primary data compression for its DX object storage platform and is working on integrating it on its Compellent and EqualLogic SAN systems.

“This is a substantially different algorithm [than for primary storage],” Davis said. “It’s developed with more sensitivity for throughput to keep backup windows short. There’s also a high-performance compression algorithm. We want to achieve high throughput while using less CPU and memory resources.”

Analysts said it makes sense for Dell to add dedupe into backup before moving it into its primary storage systems because the backup dedupe market is more mature.

“The energy is so much more on the backup side,” said Arun Taneja, consulting analyst of the Taneja Group. “Nobody can say that primary optimization is mainstream yet. Disk backup is on fire, and it has been for three or four years. Yet Dell had no product in that space. This was the more pragmatic move.”

Taneja estimates that Dell’s lack of a backup dedupe product has cost it at least $300 million per year in lost revenue. “That’s just if Dell goes in and sells it into its own accounts, nothing outside,” he said. “By not having backup dedupe for a long time, HP and Dell helped create this bullet train called EMC Data Domain that just keeps gaining speed.”

Evaluator Group senior strategist Randy Kerns said making use of Ocarina’s technology appealed to Dell because it could be used across multiple products.

“Ocarina was more of a technology than a product [when Dell bought it],” he said. “They were selling the technology applied to multiple places. This [backup] was the fastest time to market.”

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