How green are data de-duplication solutions? The answer depends on your perspective. On the one hand, dedupe products are replacing tape solutions which are the greenest of all storage technologies (notwithstanding all the trucks driving tapes around), so it would appear out of the chute that dedupe is anti-green. Relative to a non-deduped VTL, however, a dedupe appliance or host-resident solution is a positive from a green standpoint but the degree of benefit depends on the ratio of data reduction. The reduction in number of drives typically will offset the increased power consumption of the appliance (in target-based solutions) or additional processing power needed (for source-based solutions). A 1u server may consume about 1kVA of power and a disk drive about 20 watts. With a 10:1 reduction ratio you can achieve some savings but they're not huge. With a 50:1 reduction, the numbers get a lot more interesting.
So where does that leave dedupe technologies in the color spectrum? For now it appears to depend on your position in the spectrum. Even without the green benefit, customers are choosing to trade added power consumption for the cost savings and other benefits of dedupe. If data reduction ratios are high, customers get the added bonus of a greener IT story and further cost reductions. As we've said before green storage is all about the other green. This suggests that suppliers should tread carefully and make sure claims can be justified before making too much noise about the greenness of data de-dupe. As well, suppliers should architect next generation solutions designed to further green up today's dedupe infrastructure.
Action Item: The apparent lack of greenness of today's dedupe systems, relative to tape, suggests that suppliers should think carefully about how to position the issue. Position relative to VTLs as a starting point. While the lure of claiming de-dupe is green because it reduces disk drive consumption will be attractive, users should understand this depends on reduction ratios and suppliers should be open about this in their marketing so users don't get blindsided within their own organizations.