As we continue down our list of companies doing software based deduplication solution, next up is Acronis whose Backup and Recovery 10 Advanced Server provides both source-side and target-side deduplication. This provides users the option to deploy deduplication where it makes the most sense in their environment. All of Acronis's deduplication options are inline, so there is no post processing step that needs to occur other than normal deduplication maintenance.
The value in being able to choose where the deduplication work is performed is important, because in some cases you may not want to burden the client with creating the hash key, determining if the hash key has been seen by the backup server and then if it has not been seen, sending it to the backup server. For some resource constrained clients, that may be enough work to push them over the edge, causing instability on the client. On a client by client basis, being able to selectively shift this workload to the backup server or a storage node allows the user to better balance their resources.
In addition to selecting where the deduplication work is performed, the Acronis solution also allows you to do the deduplication either at a block-level or at the file-level. At the block-level, it segments data into relatively typical 4k segment sizes. The advantage of being able to do file-level deduplication is to reduce load on the server/client being protected. The less granularity, the less work that has to be done, not only in segmenting the file but in comparing those segments to what has already been seen by the backup server. The downside of file-level deduplication is reduced storage efficiency, but that loss may be worth the lightened load on the clients being protected.
The selection of these different deduplication capabilities is an either/or choice; they can not be mixed. Acronis uses storage volumes called vaults. For deduplication, the vaults need to be centralized and commonly accessible. Each vault can have different deduplication attributes, but you cannot use multiple attributes in each vault, nor can you encrypt a vault that is a deduplication vault. You can, however, mix compression and deduplication. Acronis deduplication is licensed on a per/client basis, regardless of capacity or size of the client. Similarly, for virtualized environments (both servers and desktops) one license will backup all resident virtual machines. For the most part, this should be an attractive pricing strategy and is certainly makes it simple to determine how much of the software you need.
Acronis users should also benefit from the same advantages that other software-based deduplication strategies enjoy. Being integrated, there is a single point of management for the normal backup process and the deduplication process. It can also leverage commodity storage systems instead of specialized deduplication storage hardware. Finally, Acronis also benefits from client-side deduplication technology, when applied, reducing the burden on the network infrastructure. All in all, Acronis has a solid deduplication offering and certainly offers one of the wider range of flexibility in how and where you can have your deduplication performed.George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for datacenters across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS, ... View Full Bio