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Dell primes storage bombshell with Ocarina support

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Comment Dell could be rethinking its deduplication strategy, changing to Ocarina technology and putting existing deals with CommVault and Symantec at risk. It may also have a longer term impact on the EMC Data Domain reselling agreeement.

Ocarina's announcement about its embedded deduplication code contains this statement: "Development is currently underway to deliver end-to-end data reduction products to multiple storage OEMs." Which might those be?

There is also a standard supporting quote from another supplier - but that supplier is Dell, and Dell has three deduplication offerings already. These are CommVault and Symantec on the DL2000 PowerVault array, and a recently announced resale/OEM deal with EMC for the Data Domain products.

The quote is from Praveen Asthana, Dell's Enterprise Solutions and Strategy VP, and is pretty innocuous in itself: “Customers tell us they are looking to get greater utilisation out of their full range of storage assets. Ocarina’s technology enables customers to get the benefits of data de-duplication across a wide range of data types and storage environments, bringing them efficiency and simplicity.”

It's what it presages that is a bombshell. Typically such comments imply that the supporting supplier is going to use the announced product - not always but pretty often. So Dell is going to use the Ocarina embedded deduplication code in its storage products.

Where would or could Ocarina be used in Dell's product range? The Ocarina announcement says its code can be deployed as "a standard dedupe framework across all layers of the data infrastructure – from server direct-attached storage to NAS, to archival, to backup". It doesn't mention object-based storage.

Ocarina makes the point that it's a good idea to avoid unnecessary data dedupe/regeneration cycle by keeping data deduplicated as it moves across an infrastructure. Asthana's quote indirectly refers to this. It implies that customers should look to find a single dedupe technology to be used across different data stores and throughout the data lifecycle.

In other words the ideal would be for Dell to have a single dedupe technology used on all of its platforms.

Currently Dell supplies two deduplicating storage hardware products; the DL2000 with CommVault and Symantec, and the DD products based on Data Domain. Its other storage products are EqualLogic iSCSI arrays, the CLARiiON-based AX and CX arrays, the EMC Celerra-sourced NS product, and a coming DX object store. It also has directly-attached storage on its servers,

The EqualLogic arrays are an obvious target as are Dell's servers, in the sense that there is no existing dedupe code. The DX object store will likely use some form of hash coding for objects rendering additional dedupe unnecessary, and now we run into problems.

Dell could put the Ocarina code on the PowerVault-based DL2000s and either keep Symantec and CommVault as options or tell them to sling their hook. It's a possibility that either or both of these suppliers could become Ocarina users and keep Dell happy that way. They both offer more than deduplication so Dell might offer raw dedupe, as it were, on PowerVault arrays and keep the CommVault and Symantec options, putting up with having a messy and overlapping product line.

Turning to EMC, Dell can't simply embed the Ocarina code into the EMC-sourced CLARiiON and Celerra products, and the DD boxes use Data Domain dedupe so why replace that? Customers won't get the end-to-end Ocarina dedupe story from Dell if they have both Ocarina dedupe boxes and non-Ocarina block and file/iSCSI storage from the company (CLARiiON and Celerra).

Read Asthana's quote again, and its mention of deduplication across a wide range of data types and efficiency and simplicity. Leaving out the CLARiiON and Celerra storage products compromises this message.

Perhaps EMC will get Dell out of this hole by by adding the Ocarina code to CLARiiON and Celerra arrays? What a magnificent coup that would be for Ocarina! ®

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