Deduplication Strategy and Dell/Ocarina

This week, Dell acquired Ocarina, a provider of primary storage deduplication.  The acquisition provides technology that they can integrate with existing storage platforms such as EqualLogic.  However, Dell also sells deduplication technology from EMC/Data Domain, CommVault and Symantec.  Dave West at CommVault suggests that these technologies are complementary, and I agree. However, the announcement raises a significant strategic question – which is a better deduplication strategy, “one size fits all” or “best of breed”?

Deduplication is an important technology in the datacenter and reduces power footprint and cooling requirements.  However, it typically brings a performance trade-off during read or write operations due to the additional processing required to re-hydrate or deduplicate data.  The benefits of the technology are compelling and we have seen multiple large companies promote different deduplication strategies.  Their approaches fall into two broad categories:“best of breed” (BoB) or “one size fits all,” (OSFA) and the choice of approach has a major impact.  Let’s look at each strategy individual.