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IBM lets ProtecTier data deduplication appliances replicate data for disaster recovery

IBM ProtecTier data deduplication customers can now replicate deduplicated data across the WAN to remote sites for disaster recovery – a feature commonly found in other deduplication devices.

IBM Corp. is adding native replication for disaster recovery to its ProtecTier data deduplication devices that it acquired by buying Diligent Technologies last year.

IBM has cited replication as a key priority since acquiring Diligent, but first added the ability to cluster nodes and then made ProtecTier available in appliances as well as its original version as a gateway in front of IBM storage.

Replication will be available Sept. 4 on the TS7650 ProtecTier Deduplication Gateway and TS7650 ProtecTier Deduplication Appliances. List price for replication will be $2,000 per terabyte of usable capacity after data is deduped.

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Native replication lets ProtecTier customers replicate backups across the WAN. Previously, customers could replicate deduplicated data with their storage arrays but had to copy the entire repository rather than specific data sets.

Replication is already common on deduplication data backup devices, with Data Domain, ExaGrid Systems, FalconStor Software, NEC, Quantum Corp. and Sepaton Inc. and supporting it. IBM only supports one-to-one replication, which means it can replicate data offsite to one site for disaster recovery but cannot replicate between several remote offices and the data center. Victor Nemechek, IBM's offering manager for ProtecTier, said many-to-one replication will be available later this year.

IBM is positioning ProtecTier to take on the Data Domain deduplication product line that EMC Corp. acquired for $2.1 billion this month. During IBM's July 16 earnings call, executives repeatedly hailed the Diligent deduplication devices as a success without giving any revenue figures.

"Data Domain's the only other viable [deduplication] product out there," Nemechek said. "A lot of other products out there have major technological flaws."

Diligent and Data Domain developed inline deduplication -- meaning data gets deduped before written to disk -- but Data Domain uses a hash-based deduplication while Diligent does a bit-by-bit comparison of data. Nemechek said that and ProtecTier's clustering capability lets it scale better than Data Domain's products for large enterprises, although Data Domain is ahead on replication.

Analysts said replication is a useful and necessary feature for data deduplication devices.

"If you have a VTL [virtual tape library] product with deduplication and you don't have replication, you're really not taking full advantage of that product," Taneja Group analyst Arun Taneja said.

Clipper Group analyst David Reine said the ability to replicate deduped data reduces the necessary bandwidth and saves money.

"If you're doing a full backup and moving 100% of the data, that uses a tremendous amount of bandwidth at a tremendous cost," he said. "If you move deduped data, you can save up to 95% of your transmission costs."

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