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Pros and cons of block/variable block deduplication

How is block/variable block data deduplication used in an SMB? What are the pros and cons of this type of deduplication?

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Data deduplication has found an initial market sweet spot with SMBs and remote-office/branch-office (ROBO) environments to support disk-to-disk-based backup and reduce their data footprint or amount of storage capacity needed for storing protected data. In general, dedupe can be done at the file or object level, as well as at a fixed or variable block level. It's implemented either in host backup or other layered server software that runs as an appliance in the data path or in storage systems, including virtual tape libraries (VTLs).

The benefits of file- and object-based dedupe is the ability to leverage additional intelligence and awareness of specific file types or file content information. This ability reduces the amount of data stored, but the downside is that optimization may only be available for certain data formats. The benefit of block-based deduplication is the ability to dedupe data as it is being processed in a streaming mode independent of the specific file types of formats.

Commonly, the focus with dedupe (both block and file based) is on deduplication or reduction ratios, which is applicable when the focus is on saving space. Keep in perspective the dedupe rates or the amount of data that can be moved, either backed-up or restored in a given timeframe, especially when the focus is around performance or meeting backup and data protection windows.

This was first published in June 2009

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