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Educational service provider Timecruiser is looking to slash its ongoing storage costs by overhauling its backup processes with de-duplication.

The vendor has deployed the technology as part of an effort to cut the cost of expensive RAID 6 hardware. By significantly reducing the amount of data it stores, Timecruiser is looking to shave almost a quarter of a million dollars off its hardware costs between now and 2010.

Timecruiser, which stores emails, course materials, and student coursework for around 80 U.S. colleges, currently backs up over 3 Tbytes of customer data on a regular basis. The Fairfield, N.J.-based company is required to store emails between one and three years, and academic data has to be kept for up to seven years, according to CTO James Wang.

The sheer volume of backups, along with expectations that data volumes are set to explode, had Wang keen to save on the costs of RAID 6 hardware. "The amount of [RAID 6] storage required to store all this historical data would be too great for us."

RAID 6 extends RAID 5's support for redundant arrays with additional parity to protect against the potential for multiple drive failures. (See Whats the Buzz I'm Hearing About RAID 6?) But even though RAID 6 is being deployed more widely than ever, the technology's cost per Mbyte comes at a premium, thanks to its requirement for an extra controller and at least four hard disks per instance. (See Capacity Considerations and Adaptec, Intel Team on RAID.)

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