NetApp and EMC Duel to the Death for Data Domain

NetApp’s initial bid for Data Domain came as a surprise to many. EMC’s counter was even more of a shock. These discussions have very important implications for data protection and deduplication. Two thoughts immediately come to mind:

It’s hard to do deduplication well.
EMC and NetApp say that they have robust deduplication solutions in their DL3D (Quantum technology) and NearStore VTL series products. Before these negotiations, you might have believed them. Now, they are both bidding aggressively on Data Domain. What does that say about their confidence in their own solutions? Remember, these are large companies with hundreds (thousands?) of engineers with storage experience. Why wouldn’t they just build their own deduplication technology? The simple answer is that developing really good, enterprise-class deduplication technology is difficult.

Deduplication Virtual Tape

NetApp Dedupe: The Worst of Inline and Post-process Deduplication

NetApp finally entered the world of deduplication in data protection. While they have supported a flavor of the technology in their filers since May 2007, they have never launched the technology for their VTL. Why? Because their VTL does not use any of the core filer IP. It relies on an entirely separate software architecture that they acquired from Alacritus. Thus all the features of ONTAP do not apply to their VTL. However, I digress from the topic at hand.

I posted recently about three different approaches to deduplication timing: inline, post process and concurrent process. I talked about the benefits of each and highlighted the fact that post process and concurrent process benefit from the fastest backup performance since deduplication occurs outside of the primary data path while inline benefits from the smallest possible disk space since undeduplicated data is never written to disk. Now comes NetApp with a whole new take. Their model combines the worst of post process and inline, by requiring a disk holding area and reduced backup performance. After all this time developing the product, this is what they come up with? Hmmm, maybe they should stick to filers.