Symantec Dips Into De-Dupe

Set to unveil NetBackup PureDisk backup software for remote offices

March 30, 2006

3 Min Read
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Symantec is joining the data de-duplication dance with backup software targeted for remote offices.

Symantec is set to unveil NetBackup PureDisk next week at the Storage Networking World conference in San Diego. Symantec isn't talking about it publicly yet and had not responded to an inquiry at press time, but industry sources say the product uses de-duplication technology from Data Center Technologies (DCT), a startup Veritas paid $58 million for last year before becoming part of Symantec. (See Veritas Archives Another Startup.)

Although it is part of the NetBackup brand, sources indicate PureDisk is a separate product and does not require customers use NetBackup to run it.

Customers can install PureDisk on PCs, notebooks, or servers in remote offices and use data de-duplication -- also called single-instance storage -- to compress data that appears in more than one place. (See De-Dupers Demand Disk Mindset.) This reduces the amount of traffic that transmits from remote sites over the WAN, which increases the speed of backups. De-duplication also reduces the amount of capacity required for backups.

Symantec is the first major backup vendor to offer data de-duplication, although a handful of private companies already have similar products. Asigra and Avamar use de-duplication in their backup software. Diligent Technologies uses it in virtual tape libraries (VTLs), and Data Domain employs the technology in VTLs, disk appliances, and gateways. ADIC plans to use de-duplication on its disk backup products with technology it acquired earlier this month when it bought Australian startup Rocksoft for $63 million. (See ADIC in De-Dupe Deal.)DCT developed its de-duplication technology for content addressable storage (CAS) software for archiving, but Symantec saw it as a good fit for backup.

"From the beginning, its intended use has been remote backup," says one analyst familiar with PureDisk and the DCT technology. "It uses object model storage to optimize transport across the WAN to a larger repository, and the customers can vault it off again from there if they want. It's good to see an innovative product like DCT get some resources to turn into something useful."

Not everyone is so impressed. Another analyst, who asked not to be named, says that although Symantec is the first Tier 1 vendor with this technology, its product doesn't match up to that of smaller outfits. He describes PureDisk as "a weaker version of Asigra and Avamar."

What's it missing? Reportedly, it only runs under Windows and Linux operating systems. Unlike other packages that work on database and email servers, PureDisk only handles files. It also lacks sophisticated features such as high availability and autonomous self-healing.

It remains to be seen how much these limitations will hurt. Most remote PCs and laptops are Windows-based and deal primarily with files.Meanwhile, Symantec's release will put it ahead of the curve. Analysts expect other backup vendors such as EMC, IBM, HP, CA, CommVault, and BakBone to eventually incorporate de-duplication into their products. EMC supports single instancing in its Centera CAS system but not in its Legato backup software.

Like all startups when a major vendor attacks their space, the little guys say Symantec is validating their market. "The other guys have to respond," Avamar CEO Ed Walsh says, "and we have a five-year jump on them all."

"We'd rather they tell customers they need something for remote sites, and let the customer decide," Asigra executive VP Eran Farajun says. "Our product has always been very much designed for remote sites."

Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Advanced Digital Information Corp. (Nasdaq: ADIC)

  • Asigra Inc.

  • Avamar Technologies Inc.

  • BakBone Software Inc.

  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)

  • CommVault Systems Inc.

  • Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP)

  • Diligent Technologies Corp.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Symantec Corp.0

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