I have been on a few missions in my life – some nobler than others – and now I’m on a new mission. Specifically, I’m out to evolve the market beyond a discussion of simple ‘purpose-built backup appliances’ to focus on ‘protection storage’. You may be surprised to hear me say this since Data Domain systems (arguably) created and today leads the PBBA market. But the reality is, that as wonderful as PBBAs are, protection storage is so much more than a simple backup appliance.
The first reason is quiet simple; we’ve seen more and more customers move towards consolidating backup and archive data on a single system. Protection storage must be designed to handle both workloads simultaneously. Since backup data (very few, large files) and archive data (many, very small files) has opposite characteristics, this is no easy feat. To support archive data, EMC engineering has invested years of development to refine the Data Domain file system to support both workloads.
The second piece of the protection storage puzzle goes to the heart of the purpose of backups and archives. Specifically, if you’re going to recover or access data on backup or archive storage, you’re doing so because it no longer exists anywhere else. That makes this protection storage system your storage of last resort. This means that protection storage must be designed to ensure that when data is requested from the system, it will be reliably delivered back every time. This is the core of the Data Domain Data Invulnerability Architecture –industry leading data integrity protection.
Finally, protection storage differs from primary storage in that must provide a cost effective $/GB. As we all know, the key to this is deduplication – but not all deduplication is created equal. In order to provide the highest dedupe rates, a system must use variable-length deduplication and dedupe across a highly scalable storage pool. Data Domain deduplication reduces storage requirements by an average of 10 to 30x and systems scale up to 2 PB of usable capacity in a single system.
As you can see, I’m pretty passionate about this topic and sometimes I think I may be a crazy lone wolf on this mission. But this week, I was thrilled to see that I may not be so crazy after all. Colm Keegan, Sr. Analyst over at Storage Switzerland just posted a great blog on Tuesday that discusses this very topic. Check out what he has to say and let us know what you think.