September 15, 2010, 10:23 AM — Ever wonder why hard drive capacities continue to get bigger? Do you think IT has ever told management that they will need less storage capacity over the next three years? In fact, three years from now, your company will likely have four times as much data to store as it's storing today. The gigabytes will continue to turn into terabytes, and the terabytes will soon give way to petabytes.
Fortunately, there is a way to slow the inevitable data sprawl: Use data deduplication on your storage system. Data deduplication is the process of analyzing blocks or segments of data on a storage medium and finding duplicate patterns. By removing the duplicate patterns and replacing them with much smaller placeholders, overall storage needs can be greatly reduced. This becomes very important when IT has to plan for backup and disaster recovery needs or when simply determining online storage requirements for the coming year. If admins can increase storage usage 20, 40, or 60% by removing duplicate data, that allows current storage investments to go that much further.
[ How does data deduplication work? What's the difference between block-level and file-level approaches? How to choose among source, target, and inline methods? Find out by downloading InfoWorld's Data Deduplication Deep Dive Report. ]
To see what data deduplication can do, I reviewed four storage appliances that use the technology: the FalconStor FDS 304, the NetApp FAS2040, and the Spectra Logic nTier v80 and nTier vX. All four appliances provided excellent scalability, performance, and data deduplication functionality. Each solution has a bit of its own personality -- one looks like a rack of tape drives, another a large network-attached storage system, and a third a direct-connect Fibre Channel appliance.