Maximizing Storage and Backup Efficiency: A Comprehensive Guide to Deduplication Technologies


The massive increase in data generation has driven a concurrent need for storage capacity. The numbers bear this out, with Statista projecting the cloud storage market will grow to $472 billion by 2030, a 23 percent CAGR. 

That doesn’t mean data centers are going away. Statista also projects that the data center market's global " storage " segment will grow to $14.6 billion by 2028, a 30 percent CAGR. 

These ever-increasing costs make the case for data deduplication solutions that slash storage requirements.

What Is Data Deduplication?

While most of us understand data compression, a deeper look into deduplication’s role in reducing your data footprint illustrates its importance in controlling spiraling storage costs. Let’s start with a definition from TechTarget: “Data deduplication is a process that eliminates redundant copies of data and reduces storage overhead.” Data deduplication techniques ensure that only one unique data instance is retained on storage media (e.g., disk, flash, tape, and in the cloud).

Data deduplication can be hardware- or software-based, depending on cost, performance, flexibility, and your specific storage environment’s requirements. Here are some of the differences and benefits of each approach:

Hardware-Based Deduplication

Hardware-based deduplication is performed on a specialized storage appliance or other device designed specifically for data deduplication. This type of device operates at the storage layer and generally performs better than software-based deduplication because it is optimized explicitly for deduplication tasks. 

Arcserve OneXafe is one example, providing deep data reduction and offering customized data reduction based on application type. 

Hardware-based deduplication has some drawbacks, including scalability limitations—especially when compared to the cloud—and limited flexibility in terms of integration with existing systems. Arcserve OneXafe addresses scalability using a scale-out approach that simplifies adding drives and clusters as your storage needs grow.

Software-Based Deduplication

Typically performed by an application running on a server, data deduplication software can be part of a backup solution—such as Arcserve Unified Data Protection (UDP) software—or a file system. While some software-based deduplication solutions can drag down performance, Arcserve UDP employs global, source-side deduplication that eliminates performance bottlenecks by letting you back up to either a local machine (such as Arcserve OneXafe) or a central recovery point server (RPS)

A software-based approach may cost less than a hardware-based approach because it can run on existing infrastructure. It also gives you more flexibility and scalability as you add more resources and scale out. A software-based approach, like Arcserve UDP, is more straightforward to integrate with your storage systems and environments.

How Deduplication Works

There are three core areas involved with deduplication:

The Deduplication Process

Both hardware-based and software-based deduplication employ similar processes. Data enters the deduplication appliance for hardware-based approaches as part of a backup process or real-time storage optimization. In contrast, software-based deduplication employs other storage devices or the cloud. 

Both analyze incoming data to identify duplicate segments. Depending on the software's design, this can also be done at the file, block, or byte level in fixed-size or variable-size chunks. The deduplication engine analyzes incoming data to identify duplicate data segments. 

Data Chunking

The data is then divided into smaller segments or chunks, with the size of the chunks varying depending on the deduplication method being employed. OneXafe offers both variable and fixed-length segments for deduplication. 

Fixed-length deduplication uses the same segment length and offers good data reduction ratios for information that is consistent in size. Variable length deduplication uses a sliding window to determine the optimal boundaries for deduplication. 

Data Fingerprinting

Each data segment is hashed using a cryptographic hash function such as SHA-256 to generate a unique identifier—think of it as a fingerprint—for that segment. This hash function ensures that even minor changes in data will result in a completely different hash value. The fingerprints are compared against an index of previously stored data segments, and if a match is found, it indicates that the segment is a duplicate.

Only unique data segments—for which no match was found in the index—are stored on the disk. For each duplicate segment, the system instead records a pointer to the previously stored segment. When data needs to be retrieved, the deduplication system uses its index to assemble the original data from the stored unique segments and pointers. 

Technology Options

Hardware-based deduplication can be implemented either inline or post-process. Inline deduplication analyzes and deduplicates data in real-time as it is being written to the storage system. Post-process deduplication stores the data and deduplicates it during a designated timeframe. 

Arcserve OneXafe’s fixed-length and variable-length deduplication, combined with the appliance’s inline compression, offers maximum data reduction with storage space savings of up to 90 percent and deduplication ratios of up to 10:1.

Cost-Effective Storage Solutions

Reducing your storage footprint through compression and deduplication is the first step in cutting storage costs. There are other strategies you can employ that help you keep your costs in line as your storage needs grow.

For expert help with those strategies and choosing data protection, backup, and disaster recovery solutions that feature industry-leading data deduplication, talk to an Arcserve Technology Partner

You May Also Like