Avamar has done exceptionally well over the last year. The product has definitely come along, and happens to be hitting its stride at the same time that customers are realizing how problematic certain types of backup are: VMware in particular. All this has contributed to massive growth, and a sudden realization that source based deduplication is a powerful alternative to target based deduplication. It turns out that we at EMC aren't the only ones who feel this way. From a recent analyst report on Data Domain, we have the following:
"analysts see a problem looming on Data Domain's horizon: competition. Since data protection software is a highly saturated market, Slootman says the players are in a "ground war" over space in the data center. And EMC's (EMC) purchase of deduplication startup Avamar Technologies two years ago brought one of the data center's behemoths into the picture... Data Domain is still the dominant player in the field, and the company has kept innovating to ensure a superior offering."
So lets take a look at this. The analyst is acknowledging that Avamar is competing effectively against DD. And we are. Avamar works, and works very well. What is more, Avamar offers a couple of compelling values that DD can't: significantly reduced I/O and CPU utilization on the backup host. DD does nothing for either--you still use the same amount of CPU, the same amount of network bandwidth, and you are still tied to the mediocre capabilities of a traditional backup application in the VMware world.
But the analyst also manages to get a couple things wrong. For one, DD doesn't really do any innovation. Not anymore. Their system is a one-trick pony in the truest sense. It deduplicates data. That's it. It doesn't actually do backup. It doesn't really do archive (they claim it does, but that is, at best, a dreadful case of square peg round hole). It hasn't offered a single new feature of any significance in years. At best they have managed to leverage CPU development to increase throughput and, to a lesser extent, capacity. But it is still a single purpose, in-line only, processor bound, inflexible appliance.
There hasn't been anything new to see from DD in three or four years if you don't count speed bumps. To claim otherwise is to claim that a faster x86 system running Windows Vista makes for a new Vista. And not even Microsoft would say that!
The other critical issue that the analyst are slightly off on is the size and "dominance" of DD. To be candid, DD is simply not the dominant player in the field any more. Not by revenue, at any rate. Nor, if we count net new unit sales (not the install base) would we reasonably conclude that they are dominant. We at EMC have good reason to believe that on the basis of both of those metrics we are competing, and competing very well, with our Disk Library product line. Add Avamar to the mix, and the whole thing tips pretty dramatically in our favor. Consider all other competitors (who we occasionally, regrettably, lose to--but don't worry, that won't go on forever!) and it becomes clear that DD is not only not dominant, but not even exceptional or remarkable: just one of many.
Instead it is emerging that Avamar is the key player in source deduplication solutions. Notwithstanding that changes in architecture on competing products mean that they are not really source deduplication, Avamar has seen tremendous growth, and tremendous innovation. And there is much more to come in 2009. Stay tuned to this blog--when I can tell you what is going on, I will!