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Sure, I think you see solutions like this from Riverbed Technology Inc., as well as other vendors today. The question is really about security and site-to-site and site-to-user functionality. These solutions are all highly secure today and have excellent site-to-site functionality, but the site-to-user functionality may be a stretch for many of these solutions today just because they're typically appliance-based, there hasn't been a lot of development at the host agent level as far as I know.

There are some potential use cases for remote access applications that would be interesting. But overall at the heart of this question is really what can we except to emerge from vendors in this space and who is going to show leadership in this market?

Frankly, I think you're going to see vendors in this space diversify their capabilities even further in the future and do so rapidly. By talking to a number of vendors in this space, you can figure who is going to lead that next wave of technology.

It seems well within reason to me to expect more capability at the remote user level and more significantly, you should realize that vendors in this space are making use of what is rapidly becoming the fundamental technology across the storage industry, mainly deduplication.

So, when you're talking to vendors and trying to figure out how they play in your solution portfolio and enterprise architecture, you should ask yourself what their vision is for the future and you should be asking yourself how they might leverage data deduplication to more widely benefit your organization in the future.

I believe there are some strategic opportunities here and if one vendor has a clearer vision than another, maybe they should get a higher ranking on your selection chart. Today, we are looking at a highly fragmented approach to deduplication in the enterprise. We have deduplication on primary storage with products like NetApp's Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) and other single-instance-type products and I think they are going to be more of those coming to market.

We have different deduplication for backup and different deduplication for wide area network (WAN) optimization and wide area data services, for primary data again. But then, when we're going across the WAN with backup data, we're using deduplication and replication technology inside the virtual tape library (VTL) for that transmission, so again another level of deduplication in the enterprise. You should also ask yourself how WAN deduplication or WAN optimization affects your backup deduplication data stream, especially if you're replicating it for DR purposes or offsite backup.

But the real question here for me is that you should be asking your vendors how you simplify this process and reduce the deduplication process that is going across the enterprise. Just think about these different categories and consider how many processer cycles you're burning in a big infrastructure around deduplicating and un-deduplicating this data over and over again, throughout its lifecycle.

So, look for vendors that have a long-term vision that seems to involve some type of information life cycle management (ILM) for deduplicating data and want to stretch outside of their niche to give you wider ranging deduplication services across your enterprise. Also focus on these application optimization and wide area file services (WAFS) capabilities where you need them.

Check out the entire FAQ guide.

This was last published in August 2008
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