NetApp Shakes Up The Backup Marker With The Acquisition Of Deduplication Pioneer Data Domain

Stephanie Despite the availability of multiple backup appliances supporting deduplication, Data Domain has continued to win customers at a steady pace. As of March 2009, the company had more than 2,900 customers and recruited hundreds of value added resellers. Its proven deduplication technology, integrated replication, and aggressive campaign to eliminate tape garnered it a tremendous amount of mind share and put it on most customers’ short lists. So it comes as no surprise that they were acquired by a major storage vendor.

That it was acquired by NetApp does come as a bit of surprise. NetApp does have its own successful VTL that supports deduplication. But then again, NetApp didn’t introduced deduplication in its VTL until the Fall of 2008 (the last of the major storage vendors to do so) and it typically sells its VTL into its own customer base. With Data Domain, NetApp now owns one of the toughest competitors in the backup appliance market and it gives the company a system that it (and the hundreds of NetApp channel partners around the globe) can sell into non-NetApp environments.

The largest of the Data Domain appliances, the recent DD690, scales to 35 useble TBs but because of it’s inline deduplication, the effective capacity of the system is much greater. It all depends on the deduplication ratio. If the system achieves 20:1 deduplication ratio, the effective capacity is more than 700 TBs. Throughout is 2.5 TBs per hour. NetApp’s current VTL, which supports post-process deduplication, has a useable capacity of 550 TBs and an effective capacity of 10 petabytes (PBs) assuming 20:1 dedupe. Throughput is 4.3 TBs per hour.

Generally speaking, more competitors in the marketplace is better for customers, more options, better pricing, etc. However, the acquisition does mean the current and future Data Domain customers will have the customer service and support of significantly larger storage company with a global presence. NetApp also plans to continue to sell the Data Domain platforms as is, any future integration between Data Domain and its current VTL will take a very a long time. I expect that NetApp will maintain both platforms for the foreseeable future. Data Domain is the better platform for small and medium businesses and most enterprises. For large enterprises that require more throughput and scale and policy-based deduplication, NetApp can offer its current VTL.

Now that it owns Data Domain and together with the rapid adoption of deduplication in its production FAS storage systems (as of May 13th, NetApp reported that customers has activated deduplication on more than 37,000 of its system), NetApp is now the dominant vendor in deduplication.

The acquisition also speaks to the stress that customers face storing an avalanche of data with stagnant or slow growing storage budgets and how important any capacity optimizing technology (thin provisioning, space efficient snapshots, virtual fulls, compression, deduplication) is to their storage strategy.

By Stephanie Balaouras

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