Deduplication, while effective in many cases, is not a panacea for optimizing storage at every SMB. The key is knowing when to use it, and with which client.
By Alison Diana
November 05, 2009
Business budgets may be shrinking, but the amount of data housed in organizations’ storage solutions is only growing.
"There’s no such thing as a data recession. Nobody has yet to see a decrease or drop in demand, other than when a company shuts down completely," says Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group, a firm of IT infrastructure technology analysts and consultants. "Any means of reducing [the impact of an] expanding data footprint—including data dedupe—are essential for organizations of all sizes. After all, we as a society have a data addiction at work and home, meaning that more data will continue to be generated, processed, and stored for longer periods of time."
And just as solution providers help SMB clients with other aspects of their IT infrastructure, VARs play a critical role in understanding, explaining, and implementing deduplication solutions for their end-user customers. But Schulz warns that dedupe is not the answer to every storage problem. "Don’t become tunnel-visioned on dedupe," he says. "That’s like having tunnel vision with a number four Phillips screwdriver-arm yourself with a couple of different tools.
Solution providers need to take the time to understand their clients’ business issues so they can "diagnose and prescribe the solution that best fits clients’ needs now and into the future," says Schulz. "Don’t become a doctor or diva of dedupe. Go in there and become more of a professor of footprint reduction or optimization. If you do [the correct] diagnosis, then you can do the right treatment. Not everything requires aspirin. But then, aspirin resolves a lot of issues."
A GOOD STARTING POINT
Partners can assess clients’ backup environments, advising them how to best optimize storage—such as setting and enforcing data retention policies, employing archive solutions, and modernizing backup with disk and deduplication, says Lauren Whitehouse, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc.
"The biggest challenge for VARs is understanding what’s available and determining the best fit for their clients," she says. "For example, deduplication is available in both hardware and software in the data protection realm, and there are advantages and drawbacks for each approach. VARs have to know how to apply deduplication to deliver the most optimization and cost-effectiveness."
Small businesses are, in many ways, leading the pack on dedupe technology. "Several factors play favor to the SMB being a good candidate for dedupe, including smaller amounts of data compared with larger enterprises," says Schulz. "SMBs are also leveraging remote backup to managed service providers, also known as cloud backup services, that incorporate dedupe." Schulz further notes that SMBs are leading the way in shifting from backing up directly to tape: "They are either backing up to disk and then to tape, or to another disk, opening the door and opportunity for dedupe."
Whitehouse concurs: "For SMBs, deduplication in backup often enables disk-to-disk backup and reduction or elimination of tape-centric backup strategies. This transition can introduce efficiency and cost savings, while also improving recovery time."
To succeed in the dedupe space, solution providers should tap vendors’ extensive resources, such as training and marketing tools, lead-generation, and education opportunities. By using these tools, VARs can equip themselves to meet their clients’ changing—and growing—need for storage solutions that are secure and cost-effective.