Dell revealed its data deduplication plans Monday with the unveiling of an OEM relationship with Quantum.
With the move, Dell becomes the second major storage vendor, after EMC, to adopt Quantum technology for its product line.
The decision by Dell to bring deduplication into its product line also aligns the company to better compete against rivals Hewlett-Packard and IBM, both of which have already incorporated the technology in their products.
HP last June unveiled dedupe appliances based on its own technology and other appliances based on an OEM contract with Sepaton, a Marlborough, Mass.-based dedupe and virtual tape library developer.
Deduplication, also called "dedupe," removes duplicate information as data is backed up or archived. It can be done on the file level, where duplicate files are replaced with a marker pointing to one copy of the file, and/or at the sub-file or byte level, where duplicate bytes of data are removed, resulting in a significant decrease in storage capacity requirements.
Dell is making what for it is an unusual pre-announcement of new products because of the sheer amount of noise about dedupe in the market, said Brett Roscoe, senior manager of Dell's Storage group.
"Customers are beginning to ask their tier-one suppliers about dedupe," Roscoe said. "HP made its announcement. IBM acquired Diligent."
Dell is using Quantum's dedupe technology to build stand-alone dedupe appliances for its PowerVault entry-level storage array line and for its Dell EqualLogic midrange line, Roscoe said. The company also will offer EMC's Clariion-branded dedupe appliance, he said.
The first products from the new relationship are expected to be available in the first half of 2009, he said.
Roscoe said the appliances are not necessarily a long-term dedupe solution as ISVs and operating system vendors bring dedupe technology into their software.
"If you look at traditional backup software developers, or even the OS vendors, they will pull the technology into their stack," he said. "It's like server virtualization. Microsoft puts [Hyper-V] virtualization into their operating system, and it becomes commoditized. But there's a window now when customers are looking for appliance solutions."
Dell decided to work with Quantum because of that company's leading technology, strong road map and existing technology relationships with EMC, which has OEM deals with Quantum for tape libraries as well as dedupe, Roscoe said.
With both EMC and Dell working with Quantum's dedupe technology, Quantum is able to start to build a "de facto standard" for dedupe, said Janae Lee, vice president of marketing at Quantum.
Quantum believes strongly that the best solution for customers is to have an edge-to-core dedupe solution, with products from multiple vendors like EMC, Dell, and Quantum interoperating with each other while retaining each manufacturer's own product identity, Lee said.
However, Quantum is not abandoning its own channel partners because of the OEM deals, she said.
"It's our expectation that by offering open technology to customers, it gives add-on capabilities for partners who sell into Dell and EMC infrastructures," she said. "And we will have 'Quantum'-branded products and services for the channel. This is an open market, and so our partners will be able to compete."
Brian Freed, an analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co., wrote in an analyst report on Monday that Quantum seems to have competed with other dedupe vendors over a six-month-plus time frame, and that the Dell/Quantum OEM agreement has three impacts.
First, Freed wrote, the OEM win at two tier-one vendors, EMC and Dell, is significant for Quantum in its competition with Data Domain, which is the top dedupe vendor.
Second, the Dell decision means that it can leverage common dedupe technologies across its entire line of disk storage, giving it a potentially larger market than EMC, which uses several different dedupe technologies in its storage line.
And third, Freed wrote, Dell's choice of Quantum's dedupe technology, which is also used by EMC in the Clariion line that Dell also resells, signals a long-term commitment to the Dell/EMC relationship.