Permabits and Petabytes

December 9, 2008

Cutting Costs With Enterprise Archive

Filed under: Jered Floyd — jeredfloyd @ 3:27 pm

A few things I’ve spotted around the web: Tony Pearson was at the Gartner Data Center Conference last week in Las Vegas; we were there too and it was an absolutely fantastic show. I didn’t get to go, but the reports I have back are that it was full of people who were fanatical about saving money on their storage, not just concerned with where the next steak dinner is at the show.

The best quote that Tony provides is from a lunch talk:

The lunch was sponsored by Symantec. Rod Soderbery presented “Taking the cost out of cost savings”, explaining some ideas to reduce IT costs immediately.

First, he suggested to “stop buying storage” from EMC or NetApp that charge a premium for tier-one products. Instead, Rod suggested that people should “think like a Web company” and buy only storage products based on commodity hardware to save money, and to use SRM software to identify areas of poor storage utilization.

I agree entirely; I said something similar two weeks ago. Of course, IBM is one of those premium tier-one vendors too….

The other thing that caught my eye is an article in Data Center Journal by Fadi Albatal of FalconStor. It’s an article entitled Choosing the Best Data Deduplication Solution in Hard Economic Times, and talks about deduplication in VTL for cost savings.

If you’re doing backups to tape, then VTL is a smart move. And if you’re using VTL, a deduplicating VTL is also smart to have. But overall, we see this as solving your storage cost problems in the wrong place to begin with.

Let me explain what I mean. From Albatal’s article:

So what caused the proliferation of duplicated data in the first place? Ironically, current industry standard backup practices are the number one cause of duplication. In the interest of data protection, the traditional backup paradigm copies data to a safe secondary-storage repository over and over again, creating a monstrous overkill of backed-up information. Under this scenario, every backup exacerbates the problem.

That’s absolutely correct; industry standard backup schedules result in the same data being moved from primary to backup storage over and over again. That’s why a VTL is able to save significant space with deduplication. But later on in the article, the author lists his eight top criteria for selecting a deduplication solution. Number one on that list is focus on the largest problem.

Duplication in your backups is not the largest problem. The largest problem, growing every year, is that you have so much data that you need to back up in the first place! Solving this, the real largest problem, is how Permabit Enterprise Archive saves your business millions.

There are two key areas of storage cost that go hand in hand today: expensive primary storage costing up to $30 to $50 per gigabyte, and the backup storage (tape or VTL) to back up that primary storage. Although individual tapes are inexpensive, the fully loaded cost of backup considering multiple copies, management and rate of data change can add another $5 to $10 per gigabyte or more. VTL drives this cost up, and deduplication brings it back down to tape levels.

At Permabit, we see that the largest problem is actually too much data on your primary storage. This creates enormous primary storage expense, growing at 60% or more per year, as well as proportionally large backup storage expense. An enormous amount of the data being put on tier-one primary storage today simply doesn’t have to be there in the first place; that’s why we’re now offering a Storage Assessment Service to help you identify data that can be moved off of pricey storage, or that doesn’t need to be put there in the first place.

After you’ve identified data that doesn’t have to live on your most expensive storage, Permabit Enterprise Archive stores you money in three big ways. First, the base cost of storage is enormously cheaper, without compromising reliability, availability, scalability or functionality. Like Soderbery suggests, our products are based on commodity hardware components to save money — the real smarts are in the software. Second, Scalable Data Reduction, our deduplication and space savings technology, reduces costs even more by finding data in common across your entire archive and storing the same bits only once. Third, Permabit Enterprise Archive incorporates advanced replication technology that eliminates the need for backup.

Permabit’s built-in replication provides flexible, multi-site data protection with enormous benefits over tape or VTL. The snapshotting functionality that is built into the base product solves the major backup use case of recovering a corrupted or deleted file, and provides an interface where an end-user can recovery their data quickly and easily, without involving administrative overhead. For the disaster recovery use case, replication provides an on-line store that can be put into production in a matter of seconds. Try doing that with tape!

Cutting costs in your storage environment requires looking at different and better ways of solving the problems you face today. I agree that you should focus on your largest problem first — the enormous costs of storing data to expensive tier-one and then backing it up repeatedly. Try out our ROI calculator and Storage Assessment Service and see how we can cut both those costs dramatically.

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