Attendees heard W. Curtis Preston, executive editor of the Storage Media Group and an independent backup expert, discuss the benefits of data deduplication. Covered topics included how different data deduplication products work and the key choices to be made when selecting a data deduplication product, such as the pros and cons of inline deduplication and post-process, as well as source and target-based data deduplication.
That was the case for Colin Chapman, desktop support and backup manager at the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. The organisation is responsible for public transport in the Manchester area and faces increased pressure on its backup window because of extension work to the Metrolink tram service.
"The amount of data we have and the length of time backups take is the main thing driving our interest in data deduplication," Chapman said. "We need to look for ways of backing up and restoring more quickly. Sometimes our weekly backup, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday, doesn't finish until Monday evening."
He added, "We'd like to cut down on the length of time backups take and to get them off-site. There's no doubt data deduplication could help, but our main obstacle is the budget."
Ballooning data volumes also drove Jaz Singh, technical architect at Leeds-based International Personal Finance, to find out more about data deduplication.
"What's driving things is data growth and constant duplication of data to downstream systems, the time it takes to backup, the lack of archiving and the cost of all this," Singh noted.
"We went through a de-merger and were with a managed service provider and our backups were being carried out in good time, but because data has grown so much, it does impact on the next working day sometimes," Singh said. "The contract with that provider is coming to an end and we've got the choice of continuing as we are or seeing what's out there."
For David Galbraith, IT infrastructure architect at Manchester-based financial services company Sesame, interest in data deduplication stems from decisions he must face over how to deal with data backup following a recent company merger.
"We recently bought another company and we need to merge data centres," Galbraith said. "We run Asigra and the other company runs a different product, so there's a discussion now around what to do going forward. "Asigra works, and it does dedupe the data, but backing up across the WAN has always been a problem," he explained. "So the issue is, when we redesign the data centre and merge them, do we use a data deduplication tool and use tapes, or do we continue to use Asigra?"
Where possible, users should avoid changing a data backup product at the same time they implement data deduplication, Preston said.
"I advise people to stick with the backup product they currently have, because switching it is very high cost and high risk," he said. "You have to go through this huge learning curve during which time your backups are just horrible."
According to Preston, "generally in the U.S., the first thing people do to make their current backups better is they buy a target data deduplication product. That gives them a disk target to go to, it gets rid of all the dupes, and it's fast enough that if they want to go to tape they can."
"The second thing people do is to solve the remote office and laptop problem and you generally go after that with a source deduplication product," Preston added.