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EMC races to catch up with NetApp

Block-level dedupe on way

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In a webcast for financial analysts yesterday, EMC admitted it was racing to catch up with NetApp in storage for virtualised servers by adding primary block-level deduplication.

The good news came from Pat Gelsinger, an EMC president and its chief operating officer via Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers. Apparently Gelsinger reckons that block-level deduplication is the sole remaining deficiency in EMC's unified storage line, the VNX CLARiiON + Celerra arrays, compared to NetApp's FAS boxes and their A-SIS primary deduplication.

This is particularly relevant to virtualised servers as there is a high degree of duplicated block-level data between virtual machine files and virtual desktop files. Eliminate that and you can save lots of capacity and buy fewer disks - advantage: NetApp.

EMC will deliver block-level deep in the second half of this year. It has a team of engineers, code-named Viper, working on crafting its own deduplication code-base.

According to EMC twitterer @Storagezilla, this code is already in EMC's RecoverPoint product.

If this really is EMC's sole remain deficiency compared to NetApp for virtualised server storage then Viper's product will bite NetApp in the ass. Netapp's recent strong run of results in the virtual server and desktop areas, compared to EMC, will come to an end later this year, other things, such as VNX array functionality and pricing, being equal.

If EMC has misread the situation and NetApp's lead lies in its current feature superiority, such as block-level primary data deduplication, as well as in the general smoothness and integrated management and feature sets across the FAS array range, then NetApp will continue to enjoy its long run of above-average results; leaving EMC scratching its head and wondering just what the hell it has to do to rein in the Sunnyvale upstarts. ®

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