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EMC Launches Software To Speed Dedupe Backups, Aims To Revitalize NetWorker

EMC's Data Domain has announced DD Boost, a software client that helps speed backups by moving parts of the deduplication process from the Data Domain appliance to back up servers. EMC says the software improves the backup rate for Data Domain's high-end deduplication appliance, the DD880, from 5.4Tbytes per/hour to 8.8Tbytes per/hour. EMC says it will make the software client available for EMC NetWorker, the company's backup software line, in the second half of 2010.

Data Domain is an inline deduplication appliance, meaning it dedupes backup traffic before writing the backup files to its disks. As backup traffic passes through the appliance, it runs algorithms to identify chunks of storage that have already been written to disk and places pointers to the original data instead of writing the duplicate chunks, dramatically cutting down the amount of data that has to be stored during nightly backups. DD Boost, which runs on backup servers, communicates with Data Domain so that the backup server only passes along new data chunks to the Data Domain appliance.

The company says that despite pushing some of the deduplication process to backup servers, it actually reduces the workload on those servers because the servers don't have to make as many copy requests, reducing I/O. EMC claims that server resource use can drop anywhere from 20 to 40 percent. It also reduces the amount of data traveling over the wire from the backup server to the storage appliance. "It's a good start," says Howard Marks, chief scientist at DeepStorage.net and a contributing analyst for Network Computing. He notes that the technology for DD Boost comes from a Symantec API called OpenStorage (OST), so that Data Domain can also get the same performance improvements when used with Symantec NetBackup and Backup Exec.

"DD Boost is a step forward for NetWorker," says Marks. That's because it may help revitalize the NetWorker product line. EMC admits it has let NetWorker languish in the market. It has a strong legacy deployment and contributes a significant amount of revenue to EMC, but has become a perpetual runner-up to Symantec NetBackup and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager.

Executives say DD Boost is a sign of renewed commitment to the NetWorker product line. "We can bring back some luster and glory to NetWorker," says Frank Slootman, President of EMC's recently created Backup Recovery Systems division. He's also the former CEO of Data Domain, which EMC acquired in 2009. "Before the formation of our division, there wasn't a natural home for NetWorker." Now he says there's a significant focus around upgrading the product as well as improving client support. "We're adding staff. EMC is dead serious about this," says Slootman.