Permabit extends data deduplication to Linux-based NAS

The Albireo Virtual Data Optimizer software is aimed at low-end NAS vendors

Permabit Technology announced an iteration of its Albireo primary data deduplication software for SMB network-attached storage systems based on Linux servers.

Albireo VDO (Virtual Data Optimizer), which will be available in the second half of this year, offers inline deduplication and optional data compression as a component of storage systems. Permabit sells a higher-end version of its Albireo deduplication product to NAS vendors such as BluArc, Xiotech and LSI Engenio.

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The new VDO application is targeted at smaller NAS vendors that use commodity hardware to create inexpensive and easy to use NAS, such as Overland Storage, NetGear, Cisco Systems' Linksys, and QNap Systems.

Albireo's index engine works by allowing application servers and NAS systems to quickly identify block- or file-level data already stored on an array of disks. Using the SHA-256 hash function, the software assigns a unique identifier to chunks of data being stored. Those hash identifiers are then stored, along with meta data from the storage systems -- such as the block address -- in an index.

As new data comes in from application servers, the data is automatically compared with existing data. If duplicate files or blocks of data are found, the storage system is notified and the data is not stored. When data read requests come in to the NAS appliance, the data is delivered in the same way as a snapshot is copied on a backup system, through multiple pointers to the data chunks.

"It means there's no rehydration operation and we're not in the read path," said Jered Floyd, CTO and co-founder of Permabit. "This functionality is not limited to a handful of terabytes of data. It can deliver this across petabytes of data within same file system or volume."

Floyd said Albiereo is capable of delivering 420MB/sec. of sustained throughput using a single quad-core processor, so as not to cause a bottleneck in the data path.

"We'll never be the bottleneck in the storage network," Floyd said. "We feel if dedupe has a negative impact on a storage system, that's an obstacle to adoption."

Permabit is targeting Linux-based NAS systems with its new VDO product because, after top tier vendors, it's the fastest growing market. According to Gartner, the Linux-based NAS appliance market has grown from a 6.5 percent market share in 2006 to 17.9 percent in 2009.

Floyd said about 60 vendors offer Linux-based NAS systems, which mainly use the iSCSI transport protocol. The systems typically have from one to 96 drives.

In order for the NAS vendors to use the Albireo VDO software, there is a three-week to three-month engineering effort required to integrate the application with their native storage management software.

"There are dozens of Linux-based NAS vendors that are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. If it is available, most of these vendors are frustrated with the sub-par capabilities of the deduplication that comes with the OS they integrate into their NAS," said George Crump, founder of market research firm Storage Switzerland, in a statement. "Building the Albireo VDO technology into their devices is an excellent way to differentiate themselves."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com. Read more about storage in Computerworld's Storage Topic Center.

This story, "Permabit extends data deduplication to Linux-based NAS" was originally published by Computerworld.

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