IBM recently announced the addition of deduplication technology to their Tivoli Storage Manager (ITSM) backup application. ITSM is a powerful application that uses a progressive incremental approach to data protection that is completely different from most other backup applications. The addition of deduplication to ITSM provides a benefit in disk space utilization, but also creates some new challenges.
The first challenge for many TSM environments is that administrators are already over-burdened with having to manage numerous discrete processes to ensure that backup operations are meeting their business requirements. The deduplication functionality within ITSM adds another process to an already complex backup environment. In addition to scheduling and managing processes such as reclamation, migration and expiration as part of daily operations, administrators now have to manage deduplication as well. This management may involve activities as disparate as capacity planning, fine-tuning, and system optimization. The alternative is to use a VTL-based deduplication solution like a SEPATON® S2100®-ES2 VTL with DeltaStor® software, which will provide deduplication benefits without having to create and manage a new process.
ITSM’s deduplication functionality relies on the ITSM software to perform the deduplication operations. Since the entire deduplication process can be highly CPU and I/O-intensive, the customer may need to upgrade their server infrastructure to enable the new feature. Additionally, as data volumes grow, they may also need to add new ITSM servers more frequently to ensure that they have enough computing cycles to power deduplication. Is saving some capacity but adding more performance a wise trade off?
Second, adding ITSM servers and also adds complexity to managing the ITSM environment. In contrast, VTL-based deduplication performs the deduplication on a dedicated appliance, allowing the ITSM server to focus on existing backup and restore processes without added complexity. Deduplication solutions like SEPATON’s are fully automated and self-monitoring.
Third, performance is critical in a data protection environment backup and restore. You have to maintain your backup windows and your restore SLAs. You may not be able to do so with a software-based solution like the technology in ITSM, because of the overhead required by deduplication. More importantly, your restore time is further slowed by the software’s need to “re-constitute” the data on restore. This may be manageable in a small environment, but as environments grow, the problem becomes more complex and difficult to manage. A VTL-based deduplication device like the S2100-ES2 eliminates this problem because it provide an optimized deduplication environment and it’s forward referencing ensure immediate restore performance without the need to reconstitute data.
Fourth, adding deduplication will require more disk storage for retention. The additional capacity, typically configured in ITSM as a file device class, will add cost and complexity to the environment. The administrator must manage and monitor the storage and ensure that it is providing the appropriate performance. In contrast, an appliance like the S2100-ES2 will automate the performance optimization and storage provisioning thus simplifying management and reducing costs.
In summary, IBM’s deduplication announcement for ITSM brings a new feature to the application. In smaller environments, it will probably work well. However, enterprise environments need a deduplication solution that can provide better performance, manageability and ease-of-use.