HP enters de-duplication fray on StorageWorks

HP entered the de-duplication market Monday with a suite of systems for small and medium-sized businesses and Sepaton-licensed de-duping features for its enterprise-grade HP StorageWorks Virtual Library Systems.

De-duplication is a method of cutting down on storage needs by chucking out redundant data. HP’s new de-duplication offerings include the HP StorageWorks D2D Backup Systems 2500 and 4000 (which is geared toward the SMB market), and added de-duping powers—licensed from Sepaton—and the HP StorageWorks Virtual Library Systems 6000, 9000, and 12000 (which are geared toward the enterprise market). David Rogers, manager of product marketing for data protection products and HP StorageWorks, said HP wanted to be able to offer de-duplication powers of up to 50 times, with a standard amount of twenty times.

“There’s been an explosion of data,” said Rogers. “You have to manage a lot of data, and there’s an incredible amount of infrastructure to go along with that to deal with that data.”

“It’s a sure sign that a technology is reaching the mainstream when a big established player incorporates it into their product set,” said John Sloan, a senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. EMC (with its Quantum-licensed offerings) and IBM (who recently acquired Diligent) have both jumped on the bandwagon recently, leaving the market wide-open for a leader to emerge in catching up to the functionality offered by the pure-plays.

“HP definitely had to introduce this capability. The technology has matured enough to make it a given,” said Forrester principal analyst Stephanie Balaouras. “But they’re in pretty good shape (with these offerings).”

These particular products boast a deeper level of penetration that goes within the files to look at the very building-blocks and de-dupe it at the most detailed level possible, according to Rogers, who compared it to another program backing up a changed PowerPoint presentation, while this new software would just back-up the change made within the presentation.

The HP StorageWorks Virtual Library Systems 6000, 9000, and 12000 features feature post-processing, which makes use of the enterprise-grade infrastructure to do de-duping after the back-up is finished and thus ensure no hits to performance, said Rogers. (The last back-up is also intact and available, he said.)

“The product also knows which back-up application is being used,” said Rogers. “So it will strip that metadata out (before de-duping).”

Said Balaouras: “That application-aware specificity is unique.”

Management functionality also allows the administrator more scaling capacity and performance, courtesy of a structure where all the information is kept in “one big storage pool,” Rogers said. “I don’t believe that EMC can do this.”

Pure-play vendor Data Domain is the main nemesis for the new suite of products, although Rogers believes HP has affordability and ease of use on its side. Here, in-line de-duping (meaning that the de-duping is done at the same time as the back-up) is used, as the smaller businesses don’t fear the performance hit of de-duping that massive enterprises do.

The HP StorageWorks D2D 2500 and 4000 systems are available now starting at a list price of US$6,499. The new de-duplication features for the HP StorageWorks Virtual Library Systems are available for license with the HP StorageWorks VLS6600 and VLS9000 series and will be available in July. Licensing for the VLS6200 and VLS12000 models will be available in September.

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