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Dell and the dedupe appliance conundrum

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EMC and Dell using same dedupe hymn sheet

In EMC's letter to Data Domain announcing its takeover bid it included these statements:

The combination of Data Domain’s and EMC’s technologies will provide the basis for the next-generation of disk-based back-up and archiving solutions for customers by providing functionally superior and cost-effective alternatives to tape-based information backup.

Next-generation disk-based back-up and archiving solutions represent key enabling technologies for the build-out and customer use of true high-reliability cloud computing infrastructures for both enterprises’ own virtualized data centers (“private” clouds) and third party providers (“public” clouds).

What does next-generation disk-based back-up and archiving solutions mean?

With reference to the Data Domain bid, EMC's chief blogger, Chuck Hollis, EMC's global marketing chief technology officer, has blogged:

...The more you look at data reduction in all of its various forms, you start to realize that it can play just about everywhere in the extended storage stack: backups, archives, file systems, remote replication, remote caching, primary storage, etc. etc. There’s no single “best approach” simply because there are so many places where dedupe can be intelligently used.

This is starting to echo the Dell second generation dedupe ideas. We can argue that Data Domain isn't going to play outside the backup and archive space in EMC's deduplicating world because this wider near-primary, file and object deduplication spectrum is already being worked on by EMC using Quantum technology and Dell is going to sell it. The Kaeley statement and the DL2000 release make that clear.

Hollis continues his blog, saying:

... it follows that having more different flavors of dedupe technology in your arsenal is a good thing – hence EMC’s interest in Data Domain as well as many other forms of compression, single instancing and data deduplication ... one way of thinking of this proposed acquisition is nothing more than EMC building out our data dedupe portfolio -- and associated orchestation layers -- in much the way as we’ve done before.

... EMC believes that data deduplication – in all of its various and sundry forms – is a very big deal to EMC, our customers and the industry as a whole ... EMC is building a very broad portfolio of data deduplication technologies, just as we’ve done in other areas we think are very strategic. It's a feature that will show up everywhere over time.

Showing up everywhere over time chimes with the statements in the Dell DL2000 release. Can we see the same hymn sheet being used here?

Hollis has previously said that dedupe is a feature. In his blog he reconciles this view with the Data Domain bid thus: "Data deduplication is a feature -- it shows up in many places and many forms, including simple-to-use backup appliances. Placing the right data at the right place at the right time (e.g. Networker, SourceOne, Avamar, Documentum, et. al.) is not a feature, it's a product."

What can we deduce by joining up these EMC dedupe dots? First dedupe is extremely important to EMC and can play in backups, archives, file systems, primary storage, etc. This could be Dell talking, using the same hymn sheet again, and would be identical to Dell's dedupe application spectrum if Hollis had included object storage.

Secondly, EMC is building a broad portfolio of dedupe technologies and these will not be mutually exclusive.

All-in-all the joined-up Dell and EMC dots are telling us that EMC will announce deduping Clariion, Celerra, and maybe enhanced deduping Centera, storage products, using Quantum DXi technology, and Dell will adopt and sell them in the second half of this year. That's if my dot-joining skills are working well. They could be working badly though, and I've just drawn a crock of the stuff that sticks to fans.

Still, some kind of Quantum technology-based deduping product or product set is going to come out of EMC later this year and Dell will adopt and sell it. That's now a given. ®

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