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Arkeia digs deep for dedupe technology

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Backup supplier Arkeia is buying Kadena Systems and its deduplication technology for an undisclosed amount.

Kadena is a startup which has developed block-level deduplication, using what it calls sliding-window technology. The size of this window can be adjusted to match the type of content in a file and, to that extent, the technology is content-aware. Kadena says its technology uses progressive-matching algorithms to identify known blocks, which speeds the deduplication process.

Privately-held Kadena Systems is based in Santa Clara and its technology is patented, with the first filing in 2004. It says it has more than 6,000 end-user customers. Tamir Ram is a co-founder and its chief technology officer, and he joins Arkeia to become its chief architect. His background is noteworthy as it includes a period at Data Domain, where he served as Senior Director of Software, being the original engineering team leader. He has been awarded several patents in data protection and networking. Larry Kubo is the president and other co-founder of Kadena. He is an ex-marketing VP at NetApp and doesn't appear to be joing Arkeia.

Kadena developed snapshot backup software, Pocket Cache+, for flash drives, whereby PC files could be backed up to thumb drives or other USB-connected disk products, including CDs and DVDs. The company said "PocketCache+ employs an innovative, content-based backup technology that detects changes in individual file contents and stores these in fast, highly storage-efficient 'snapshots.'" The technology was called content replication and redundant data items in backups of PC files were eliminated. SanDisk had an agreement with Kadena to use this technology on its Cruzer flash drives in 2004.

Arkeia will use Kadena's technology to provide source-side deduplication in its Network Backup product. The backup data is deduplicated before being sent to a target backup device, a drive array or a virtual tape library (VTL), for example. Bill Evans, Arkeia's CEO, said: "For network backup applications the primary benefit of deduplication should be faster backups that allow a shorter backup window." The Arkeia backup servers will integrate deduplication and this integration should, it's hoped, decrease administration costs.

Arkeia says that customers will be able to deploy its deduplication flexibly. The deployment platform could be software, a physical appliance or a virtual appliance. The technology can be deployed in target mode if Arkeia/Kadena software backs up and deduplicates it to a directly-attached disk store. The deduplication can be local or central in scope, with Arkeia/Kadena technology deployable in distributed offices or a central data centre where data from many offices could be deduplicated.

Arkeia thinks that virtual desktop use will increase substantially and that source-side virtual desktop backup and deduplication will yield good space savings.

Other backup software suppliers, such as Symantec and Acronis, are integrating deduplication into their backup products. EMC bought Avamar partly for its source-side deduplication technology. Storing backup data in a deduplicated array is becoming the norm, and sending deduplicated backup data across a network link to reduce bandwidth demand is becoming increasingly common.

If backup suppliers like Arkeia embrace deduplication, they can tell their customers they can use a standard drive array and not have to buy a special deduplicating box.

The timescale for Arkeia to deliver an integrated deduplicating backup product has not been revealed. We suspect the earliest data would be the second half of 2010. If Arkeia had been working on a technology licensing deal with Kadena before it decided to buy the company, then work could already be underway and a product announcement could be made earlier. ®

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