The Incredibly Shrinking Backup Window

Data Domain aims to reduce backup times by up to 20x, and prods tape loyalists to ''move on''.
Posted October 19, 2005

Drew Robb

Drew Robb

Data Domain of Palo Alto, Calif. is one of a new breed of storage startups that are aggressively campaigning against tape-based backups. In fact, the company gives away car bumper stickers saying, ''Tape Sucks, Move On''.

Its marquee product, the DD400 enterprise series falls loosely in the ''Capacity Optimized Storage'' (COS) category. The basic idea is to not waste storage space by holding the same email attachment or document copy multiple times. Instead, pointers are used to replace redundant copies so that only one or two need to be stored. Further, the backup data stream is adjusted so that maximum data flows in the smallest possible unit of time.

''The compression and filtering technology built into the DD400 series reduces backups by an average of 20 times,'' says Bart Bartlett, director of marketing at Data Domain.

The software built in to the DD400 views data at a sub-block level. It looks at the data stream and if that data has already been seen, it isn't backed up again. According to Bartlett, this makes a huge difference with full backups. After the first one, others might take 20 times less time. Even with an incremental backup, it can still be compressed to about one sixth of its normal size.

The DD400 is a disk-based backup system that aims to be a tape replacement rather than merely a temporary fast cache to store backups prior to transferring them to tape. Data Domains approach is to reduce the amount of the backup considerably in order to make long-term storage on disk a viable alternative to tape. Further, it makes it possible to replicate the data over a wide area network (WAN) to a disaster recovery site at about one-tenth the bandwidth.

''COS is the key to a tapeless data protection architecture for the enterprise,'' says Bartlett. ''The DD400 can scan data at 80 MB a second so there is no throughput bottleneck.''

According to Bartlett, the device is qualified with most enterprise backup programs so no infrastructure change is required -- either at the data center or at the branch office. It can be used to protect such applications as Oracle and other databases, Exchange and Outlook .pst files, home directories, developer files (such as CVS) and CRM/ERP applications.

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