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Netting Out NetBackup

How much does a deduplication solution really cost you?

Created: 18 May 2011 • Updated: 22 Jan 2013
AbdulRasheed's picture
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There are a number of deduplication solutions from various vendors available for you to choose from. There are plenty of discussions about various kinds of deduplication solutions and how those help to reduce the amount of secondary storage required for backups. In a series of blogs titled The power of NetBackup deduplication, we looked at various aspects of NetBackup deduplication and elaborated on how NetBackup provides a powerful, global, flexible and application aware deduplication technology which stands out from the crowd. The availability of appliance form factor for NetBackup deduplication made it a very popular turnkey solution for enterprise. However we didn’t really say anything about one of the most important decision factor when you are shopping for dedupe, how much does it really cost to implement and maintain a deduplication solution?

As always, there are two parts to consider when assessing the total cost of ownership.

  1. Upfront costs: The cost involved in procuring and implementing the solution
  2. Maintenance costs: The cost involved in maintaining and refreshing the solution for optimum performance and ROI.

Upfront costs:

  Deduplication is available in build-your-own software form factor as well as in ready-to-use hardware appliances.

  The prerequisites of a software solution are procuring commodity hardware, operating system (if applicable) and storage. You also need to account for the cost involved in hours spent by staff or integrator to build everything from ground up. This cost depends on your current situation. If you are planning to repurpose existing hardware and storage or you have the option to procure commodity hardware and storage at a huge discount, it would make sense to go for a software based solution. If you already have skilled staff to build such environments, it is a huge plus.

  Getting an appliance based deduplication solution tend to smoothen purchasing and deployment experience. Most appliances also come with embedded storage. NetBackup appliances are turnkey solutions which can be deployed in a matter of minutes.

  There are two upfront costs to watch from various vendors.

  1. The cost of replication engine: Most vendors do charge for turning on replication feature. With NetBackup deduplication, you get replication capability at no additional cost. We will explain the importance of replication in detail while discussing maintenance costs.
  2. The cost of encryption: Vendors may charge for turning on encryption feature. Encryption feature is needed to protect your data at rest as well as in flight from client. Note that some vendors may not even have this security feature. With NetBackup deduplication, there is no additional cost involved in using encryption.

Maintenance costs:

  It is trickier to compare true cost of maintenance from various vendors. Don’t simply fall for a discount or promotion offered by a vendor for the upfront cost. This could be a trap to get their solution into your data center. The TCO can be significantly high for maintenance which will be clear only after the foot print is already in the data center whereby needing to spend more on getting the expensive solution replaced.

  Let us explore the hidden costs in this category. The task is much simpler if you remember the 3Rs in maintenance costs. Retention, Replication and Refresh.

  1. Retention: If a vendor is charging you per terabytes of data stored in deduplication pool, retention is going to be a challenge. The longer you keep your backups, the more is the space consumption and hence the cost of deduplication will increase drastically. With regulations and compliance requirements; more and more organizations are in need of keeping data longer. It is better to adopt a licensing model where you pay for the amount of data you are really protecting. This method is known as front end terabyte (FETB) capacity model. NetBackup deduplication uses FETB model.
  2. Replication: The purpose of deduplication is to avoid keeping duplicate copies of data on storage. Thus a given segment with a hash (finger print) may be owned by hundreds of backups. In an event that the deduplication storage is compromised (e.g. an unexpected disaster at the primary site), you need at least one additional copy elsewhere. This is achieved by replication. The replication target is generally offsite but it could also be on-premise for better availability based on your business requirements. There are two things to watch for when assessing the cost of replication. One is the upfront cost for the replication engine which we had already discussed earlier. The second is the cost of additional copies. If a vendor is licensing based on the amount of space consumed in deduplication storage, you will end up paying for creating additional copies at replication targets. As NetBackup deduplication is using FETB model, there is no additional cost involved in making multiple copies.
  3. Refresh: Watch for vendors bundling deduplication engine and hardware together. A hardware refresh would mean paying for deduplication engine once again with the new equipment. With NetBackup appliances, software and hardware are licensed separately. When you need to refresh your hardware, you only need to pay for the new hardware. The software license stays with you forever and it can be transferred to refreshed equipment. Similarly, if you had already invested on software license deployed on commodity hardware, it can be transferred to a hardware appliance as well.

Don’t be duped by dedupe! Pick a solution that brings down TCO while providing a powerful deduplication platform.