VTL Vendors Ponder De-Dupe

A lack of commitment marks the progress of de-duplication into the VTL arena

August 3, 2007

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Vendors of virtual tape libraries (VTLs) are under pressure to add data de-duplication to their wares. But they continue to waffle on which one to use.

Data de-duplication has become a key technique for data reduction, ensuring that optimum use is made of expensive disk storage. But concerns about performance and other factors appear to have the leading VTL vendors as concerned as end users when it comes to how and when to deploy. (See Experts Share De-Dupe Insights.)

Case in point: While at least three leading storage vendors -- EMC, IBM, and Sun -- OEM their VTL products from FalconStor, they haven't added that vendor's data de-duplication into their wares. Indeed, they're looking elsewhere.

"We will offer de-dupe in our VTL at the beginning of 2008... The VTL comes from FalconStor, but the de-dupe technology will not. That will be our own intellectual property," writes EMC spokesman Todd Cadley in an email to Byte and Switch today. EMC will leverage the technology acquired in the purchase of Avamar to develop de-duplication for EMC's Clariion Disk Library series. (See EMC Picks Up Avamar and EMC Talks Disk & De-Dupe.)

IBM says it has no de-duplication in its VTLs and no timeframe to share for adding it at this point, though the NetApp NAS gear from IBM has de-dupe. "We are actively examining the best approaches, and we do currently OEM de-dupe into our N series line from NetApp," says IBM spokeswoman Cary Barbour.Sun's also hedging its bets. Though it has a closer relationship with FalconStor than any of the VTL supplier's other OEMs, and even though Sun made a pact with Falconstor shortly after ditching its internal VTL efforts, Sun hasn't announced de-duplication on any of its latest high-end systems. (See Sun Unveils Low-Cost Array, FalconStor Plots De-Dupe Debut, and Sun Opens Tape Again.) At press time, Sun couldn't comment further on its plans to augment its VTLs.

The problem seems in part to be FalconStor's. That vendor's initial release of a Single Instance Repository (SIR) feature runs on a server attached to the VTL, instead of integrated within it. SIR de-duplicates data after it has been backed up, as does FalconStor's chief de-duping VTL rival, Sepaton. FalconStor claims a 30:1 data reduction ratio for SIR.

"We will announce VTLs with integral de-duplication later this year," says Jack Igoe, director of product marketing at FalconStor. He declines to say how much later in 2007 the release will come, but he claims it's imminent and will be part of a larger announcement from FalconStor.

One thing: The new product from FalconStor is likely to be a brand new offering, instead of an existing FalconStor VTL with SIR inside.

FalconStor isn't alone in its lack of de-dupe acceptance by OEMs. HP OEMs Sepaton's VTL, but does not yet include Sepaton's data de-duplication, and HP's not giving any date for changing that.There are whispers that even when FalconStor ships its de-duplicating VTL, OEMs may market other vendors' wares as well, such as those of Diligent, Data Domain, and Quantum. With lots of alternatives to choose from, there's no need for big suppliers to be exclusive. "There are a lot of de-duplication providers, and product delays can be quite costly," says analyst Robert Stevenson of TheInfoPro. Why wait when you can add another option?

Another analyst says it wouldn't surprise him to see vendors like Sun offer alternatives to FalconStor's data de-duplication. "I would not be surprised at all to see [for example] HDS bring to Sun a Diligent-powered VTL alternative for use when HDS storage that is resold by Sun is being deployed, particularly when up against an EMC FalconStor-based solution with DMX-based storage," says Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group.

So far, no such alternative appears to be in the offing. But given the volatile nature of the storage market, it may be wise to stay alert for further developments. "I would be surprised if Sun just walked away from FalconStor ... to get a much delayed open systems VTL solution in the market in lieu of changing gears," Schulz says. "With that being said, when it comes to Sun and storage, at least from a historical perspective, anything is possible."

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP)

  • Diligent Technologies Corp.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Sepaton Inc.

  • TheInfoPro Inc. (TIP)

  • The StorageIO Group

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights