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FalconStor Software’s newly announced file interface deduplication solution promises to shake up the disk-to-disk (D2D) backup space and bring the cost-saving technology to small and midmarket businesses.

For years, there has been a considerable disparity between low-priced tape and expensive disk-based storage systems, according to a 2007 report from Enterprise Strategy Group, making tape backups an economic no-brainer despite the technology’s inherent weaknesses—complexity, unreliability and slow performance.

As organizations generate more data that must be archived and stored, and more workers remain connected to a 24/7 workplace, tape’s weaknesses become glaringly apparent, says Greg Knieriemen, vice president of solution provider Chi Corporation.

“The challenge is that clearly people are backing up more and more data during the ‘off-peak window’ when backups are traditionally completed continues to shrink,” Knieriemen says.

Most organizations set aside time—usually overnight—during which to perform backups, but backing up data to tape often takes longer than the overnight hours allow, especially as data volumes grow, he says. Many organizations have turned to Virtual Tape Library (VTL) technology, which promises better performance and higher reliability while still maintaining the same data format as tape backup.

“VTL is a disk version of a tape library in which the backup system will write in a tape format to a disk,” Knieriemen explains. “The logic behind this is that a disk is much faster to write to than tape, and it also restores much more quickly while using a common tape format.”

The end result is a solution that uses an organization’s existing backup structure, but it’s faster and the data retention time can be extended, Knieriemen says. Adding deduplication capability to VTL technology solves an additional problem—getting rid of redundant data that takes up valuable space on a storage device.

The advantage of deduplication technology is manifested in lowered costs and increased efficiencies, says Knieriemen.

“You’re reducing the amount of data you’re keeping on disk, which means your retention period can get longer since you can store more data. And you’re buying fewer expensive disks,” he says.

VTL software provider FalconStor is currently beta testing its file interface deduplication solution, but the market has mostly been dominated by Data Domain.

Knieriemen says that he believes the FalconStor technology has a number of advantages over Data Domain. The file interface technology allows end-users to set up a simple shared disk drive as a repository for data, which means increased cost savings. For SMBs, the VTL solution with the file interface system also eliminates the need for tape backup infrastructure altogether, since the solution can emulate a tape backup system and ensure that data of any type can be written to a disk.

“Smaller organizations don’t necessarily need tape—they back up to disk directly. And with the file interface capability in our VTL, the customer’s existing backup software drives data – regardless of whether it’s saved in a tape or a disk format—to   a shared drive,” says FalconStor marketing director Fadi Albatal.

FalconStor’s VTL integrate with legacy, industry standard hardware instead of a proprietary backup appliance, which is also a great fit for SMBs who can afford to make further infrastructure investments, says Albatal.

“FalconStor’s software means there’s no proprietary hardware required. Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell servers and storage are all cross-certified,” says Knieriemen, making it a great fit for SMBs who may not have the budget or the management personnel to handle disparate systems and hardware.

Knieriemen believes that when FalconStor’s product is released from beta in early 2009, he’ll have plenty of customers waiting.

“We’re in the process of identifying key customers now, but we really think this is going to blow other solutions out of the water,” he says.