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Backup Shakes Off Transparency

Backup is all about efficiency, not flash. So it's no surprise that the key to better backup lies not in techniques -- such as continuous data protection (CDP) or wide-area file services (WAFS) -- but in the more hidden areas of de-duplication and compression.

Recently, ADIC spent $63 million to acquire Rocksoft, a firm that specializes in compressing data that appears in more than one place. (See ADIC in De-Dupe Deal.) Some have said that's a hefty premium for a tiny startup without much revenue, and suggests there may have been a bidding war for Rocksoft. ADIC, traditionally a tape vendor, will use Rocksoft's technology to improve its presence in the disk backup market. Are Overland or Sepaton still shopping? No one's saying.

At the same time, Symantec is expected to launch de-duplication software using technology Veritas acquired by buying DataCenter Technologies (DCT) last year. (See Veritas Archives Another Startup.)

It all points to a trend toward ensuring that compression and de-duplication are an integral part of emerging products. "If that capability is not built into any [backup] product in the next 18 months, that vendor will suffer," says analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group.

A range of products already offer these hidden "musts." (See Data Compression: The Squeeze Is On!.) Some backup players, such as Avamar, compress data at the application server where the data originates. Others, like Data Domain, do it on the disk end, where the stored data resides. (See A Storage App Without the Storage.)

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