Nexsan and Falconstor team up to make a greener, de-dupe solution.

Nexsan DeDupe SG provides a new breed of de-duplication hardware

While Microsoft has made strides through the software side to deduplication (eliminating redundancy at the source), the hardware side has become a new focus to see where adjustments can be made. "As organization's strive to cut IT costs without reducing operational service levels, the stage is set for a new breed of highly efficient storage systems," said Gary Watson, chief technology officer of Nexsan (a leading provider of energy-efficient, long-term storage systems). This ‘new breed’ must look at optimizing for high density, power and cost efficiency. One solution that was released on Monday is the Nexsan DeDupe SG which looked at how the typical solution performs to see if energy savings might be obtained. Storage deduplication systems are primarily used as backup targets, operating only during the backup window. Even though the typical backup window is less than eight hours a day, deduplication systems typically spin drives and burn energy for the remaining 16 hours, even while not in use. The solution they came up with in putting their minds together with FalconStor, a leader in Virtual Tape Libraries, is a way to have the inactive disks idle or shutdown. The reduction in energy consumption, which is usually wasted by powering and cooling these idle disks, is a money saver and lends toward environmental friendliness. The technology being used is called AutoMAID. Now, perhaps you have heard of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) but maybe the term MAID (Massive Array of Inactive Disks) is new to you. MAID treats disk drives as stop/start solutions, powering on the disks only when needed. There are limitations to “Old MAID”, as it is being called, that AutoMAID focuses on improving upon. For example: • Old MAID is slow to respond to an application’s request for data. Most applications cannot tolerate the long delays old MAID creates • AutoMAID responds quickly to an application’s request for data. This faster response time with full speed disk performance means more applications can be used with AutoMAID • With old MAID an IT department had to choose between performance and energy savings • With AutoMAID there is no need to choose. AutoMAID delivers both storage performance and energy savings allowing applications to run fast when operating and save energy when they are not. AutoMAID Speed with Green If a customer completes backups in a given portion of the day, a significant amount of energy is wasted as the target storage system remains online waiting for the next data feed or request. Disk drives continue to spin and must be cooled, even if data is not being written. This presents a great opportunity for IT to cut energy costs—an opportunity that many organizations plan to take advantage of as nearly 42% of organizations recently surveyed by ESG said that they planned to maintain or increase their investment on more power-efficient storage hardware in 2009. Customers can lower power consumption and support green initiatives with the Nexsan DeDupe SG as all the systems support AutoMAID, which manages a process to idle or shut down inactive drives. By idling or shutting down inactive drives, the Nexsan DeDupe SG consumes less energy (the drives do not draw any power) and reduces the amount of energy needed to cool the solution (because the drives aren’t spinning and aren’t generating any heat). Customers do not have to install any software on (backup application) servers or other hosts connected to the Nexsan DeDupe SG to run AutoMAID. The best part about AutoMAID is that it is not an ‘all or nothing’ option. Customers configure AutoMAID at the level to balance energy savings with drive response times (this is what the SG in the product name stands for: “Speed with Green”). For example, a level-one AutoMAID setting ensures sub-second drive response times while delivering 15-20% energy savings as the drives are still powered and can spin up immediately. When AutoMAID is set at level-two, customers can expect a 15 second response time and achieve a 35-45% reduction in energy consumption. Level-3 delivers 60-70% energy savings and drives will respond to a request in 35-40 seconds. All of the aforementioned response times are for the first I/O request only – all subsequent I/O is handled at full speed as the drives are spinning at their maximum rates. This flexibility enables customers to further optimize their backup environments by reducing energy usage without impacting the ability to access data in a timeframe acceptable to the business.

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