There is a growing trend in storage lately, the concept of a manufacturer tapping another developer to help them compete in the market. This allows two smaller suppliers to team up against the larger suppliers. One of the best examples of this is NAS vendors adding deduplication functionality to their systems.NetApp is having success with its deduplication capabilities and the competing NAS suppliers are often tapping another supplier to help them compete. NAS suppliers like BlueArc, Isilon and HP are partnering with Ocarina Networks and others to be able to deliver deduplication capabilities to their storage systems. It also allows these smaller suppliers to specialize on what they do best and not waste a lot of development cycles on adding a feature that is already available somewhere else.
These vendors can deliver value right out of the box just by having the relationship. For example Isilon can leverage the Ocarina Technology to be able to migrate and optimize data between their primary storage S and X class systems to their NL systems, with no additional development required by either supplier. Over time each of these vendors will take advantage of the relationship and build a level of integration that will highlight their NAS specific features.
BlueArc for example has integrated the capability into their data migration facility to allow for transparent and optimized migrations to less expensive storage tiers that are seamless to the user. This transparency is critical and allows administrators to be more aggressive in migration since, from a user perspective, there is limited if any, noticeable performance loss on a migrated file. The optimization of the migration process as we detail in our article "Optimized Migrations" further increases the ROI of the secondary storage tier.
It appears that NetApp has an advantage against these competitors in that they can deduplicate active data like VMware images but you have to be careful when using that capability to make sure the workloads will not see a performance impact. Specifically you are advised to avoid deduplicating databases and any write heavy workload.
These competitors also have an advantage in that their option can also compress data as well as deduplicate it. In many scenarios there is not much duplicate data but much of the data is compressible. To achieve meaningful deduplication rates requires that there be some duplicate data, compression works on all the data that is compressible regardless of how much duplicate data there is.
Following this through compression of active data, including databases via a real time appliance like those offered by Storwize may be the most logical solution and could very well compliment and enhance the overall storage optimization strategy.
There are many options available for optimizing the storage capacity of file system data and it is available from a variety of sources. Make sure you consider all the options available to you and include compression as well as deduplication into the decision criteria.
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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.