The Goodness Cascade: How the Full Deduplication Lifecycle Delivers Value

Posted 02/11/2014 by Commvault

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In the previous blog, we took a look at deduplication ratios and the arguments around variable-length or fixed-length deduplication. Interesting discussions, but in a way beside the point. What matters with deduplication is the entire data protection lifecycle, what you do with the data from the moment you start protecting it. And the fact is, by starting deduplication at the source, and taking a global deduplication approach, you create a cascading series of good things - or what we call the Goodness Cascade.

It’s a big story and we don’t have space to delve deeply into all the parts. This will be a highlight tour: we’ll drive by all the interesting sites to take a look, but we won’t get off the bus to explore them.  

Simpana 10’s global deduplication begins at the source. Why start there? Because what you care about is your applications, and by starting at the source you’re able to shorten backup time significantly, which is our first piece of Goodness because it reduces the load on your apps. And since Simpana software understands the data it’s protecting, you can encrypt the deduped blocks over the wire, something you can’t do if you’re running a deduplication target appliance ('encryption breaks dedupe' does not apply here). Using a synthetic full backup process you can provide an 'incremental forever' backup model that really shrinks down how much data your applications need to pick up and send over the network.

The backup network is the next beneficiary in the Goodness Cascade. If you send less data over the network, then you can postpone or even eliminate the need to upgrade your backup network in the face of ever-increasing data volumes. Taking a major infrastructure upgrade off the table is real Goodness that your entire IT organization will appreciate. Customers, such as Rackspace CIO Dr. Stephen Mills, who know a thing or two about lots of backup data, have noted how Simpana software deduplication has saved them on network infrastructure costs.

When the deduped data lands on the target side, of course you experience plenty of disk space savings. If resource limitations prevent you from using source side dedupe on some systems, not to worry! You can deduplicate on the target side as well. Goodness for sure. But did you know that Simpana software can give you fast restores from the dedupe pool without the need to re-hydrate everything? That’s right, no restore penalty. Serious Goodness there.   

Ok, we’ve landed the data, so we’re done, right? Not at all. What about disaster recovery? Easy. You can replicate deduped data to another site using Simpana DASH copy technology, saving plenty on bandwidth without the need for costly network accelerators. That’s the kind of Goodness your CFO will really appreciate. And since Simpana 10 deduplication uses a bring-your-own-storage model, the disk at the DR site doesn’t have to be the same as at the primary. In other words, it can be lower cost disk, disk from a different vendor, re-purposed disk: whatever fits the hard reality of your budget. (It could also be one of many cloud providers — more on that in a minute.) There are so many steps where Simpana deduplication saves you money that maybe we should call it the Savings Cascade (feel free to borrow that term when discussing it with your CFO)!

There are management savings all along the way as well because everything is policy-driven from a unified management console. Think of the replication piece. If you are using a deduplication appliance then you have to configure the replication process from the appliance point of view. Your backup software doesn’t know anything about it. With Simpana software, backup and replication are integrated, not separated, so we keep track of everything from end to end. More juicy Goodness for you.

Ok, seems like the tour is over since we’ve backed up our data quickly, efficiently and securely, and we’ve replicated it off site. Finished? Not quite! The last leg of the tour is optional but important. What about long term retention? Yes, I’m talking about tape and cloud.

You can certainly go tapeless with this model, and the very flexible disk retention options of Simpana software make that perfectly viable. But if long-term data retention (many months to many years) is a requirement, you might want to look at tape.

Unlike a lot of data deduplication solutions out there, tape isn’t a simple, bare-bones add-on with Simpana software. It’s a core function, feature rich and incredibly detailed. And we have a great deduplication-to-tape offering called Silo Storage, so the Goodness Cascade doesn’t stop at the disk level. Tape dedupe means the volume of tape you need to create is dramatically reduced. That means fewer cartridges to buy and reduced vaulting costs -- the Savings Cascade continues! And it’s all indexed so you can find whatever it is you’re looking for, even years after dumping it off to that tape you thought you’d never need again.

If you really, really, really don’t want to manage tape but need long-term retention, then you can consider long-term cloud storage. Wouldn’t you know it, but Simpana software has built-in support for a wide range of cloud vendors. These providers offer cost-effective long-term retention and sending data to them is as easy as picking one as a target destination in the Simpana software interface (after creating an account with them, of course).

Well we’ve reached the end of the tour at last. As we’ve seen, by starting deduplication at the source we not only save on disk space – what you usually think of when you hear 'deduplication' – but we find Goodness at many stops along the way, from speeding up  backups to reducing LAN and WAN traffic to limiting tape creation or storing data in the cloud. The Goodness starts at the source and it continues for the complete protection lifecycle.