IBM Gets De-Dupe With Diligent Acquisition

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., on Friday said it acquired Framingham, Mass.-based Diligent for an undisclosed sum.

De-duplication, also called "de-dupe," 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.

Diligent develops software and appliances that allow in-line data de-dupe. With in-line de-dupe, duplicate data is removed as it is streamed to a backup or archive appliance.

Dave Messina, manager of business development for IBM's System Technology Group, said IBM acquired Diligent because the company's de-dupe technology has industry-leading performance. That performance is important as IBM integrates it with other technology like encryption, Messina said.

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Clustering of appliances based on the Diligent technology is on the company's roadmap, he said.

Diligent currently OEM's its software to Overland Storage, a San Diego, Calif.-based storage vendor. The company also has at least two large vendors who resell its technology, including Hitachi Data Systems, of Santa Clara, Calif. and Sun Microsystems, Santa Clara, Calif. Datalink, a Minneapolis-based storage solution provider, also resells the technology, Messina said.

IBM wants to continue these relationships. "It's highly likely we may restructure some of these relationships," he said. "If they are a reseller today, maybe being an OEM is better in the future. But we'll try to keep these relationships."

Mitch Kleinman, president of Ryjac Computer Solutions, an Irvine, Calif.-based IBM solution provider, said that de-dupe has been a big hole in IBM's storage technology. "I'm glad to see IBM filling in that hole," Kleinman said. "But I don't think Hitachi Data Systems will be happy about it."

Ryjac is selling a good amount of IBM's virtual tape libraries, but sometimes has difficulty selling against other vendors like NetApp, Sunnyvale, Calif., who add de-dupe capability to their VTLs, Kleinman said.

"This Diligent acquisition makes IBM more attractive," he said. "I guess IBM's 7520 and 7530 VTLs will have the Diligent technology as an option, based on IBM's historical protection of customer investments. And I expect Diligent will be a part of IBM's Tivoli offering in the future."

Kleinman said he can't guarantee that the Diligent acquisition will make IBM the VTL market leader. "But it will be important to IBM's success in bringing the right storage to customers," he said. "Rather than rushing into things, IBM is making acquisitions based on its current strategy."

Adding de-dupe has become a common event for storage vendors in the last couple years.

Quantum, of San Jose, Calif. and EMC, Hopkinton, Mass. have both acquired de-dupe vendors in the last two years, while Sun and FalconStor Software, Melville, NY, have both added de-dupe functionality.