Network Appliance is to launch its first data de-duplication technology for primary corporate storage systems.

The new NetApp Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) software provides de-duplication across NetApp's NearStore R200 and FAS storage systems, the company said.

Users have been waiting for this, said Davinder Gupta, manager of network systems at Intuitive Surgical in Sunnyvale California.

"Because of our explosive growth, I've been checking in with NetApp for the last few years, waiting for de- duplication," Gupta said. He wanted to avoid introducing technology from a different storage vendor into his network, he explained and, with the amount of data at his company mushroom at a rate of 8 percent per month, it hasn't been practical to simply buy more storage.

Gupta oversees 15 TB to 20 TB of data stored in a variety of systems, including NetApp FAS920, FAS3020 and NearStore R200 arrays. Intuitive Surgical tested a beta version of A-SIS with a 100 GB data set and achieved a 37 percent increase in storage capacity. The test included a variety of data types, including Excel, Word and JPEG files, as well as movies, he said. He noted that there was no performance degradation during file access.

Gupta expects the capacity of existing storage systems to grow by about 25 percent once a production version of A-SIS is up and running. He said he also expects that the software will significantly shrink backup times and slow the need for additional storage capacity.

Intuitive Surgical is now installing the production version of the software, Gupta said. The software is currently available at no additional charge for users of NearStore R200 arrays and at an undisclosed price on FAS platforms.

An earlier iteration of the A-SIS technology was strictly for NetBackup environments, NetApp noted.

One thing Gupta discovered during the testing process is that A-SIS can force end users to clear snapshots, which could lead to accidental backup removal. David Russell, an analyst at Gartner, pointed out that the new offering lacks an intuitive graphical user interface, instead relying on a command-line interface.

However, Russell said that de-duplication is garnering enormous interest in large organisations because of the technology's ability to protect and store large amounts of data for backup and archiving, retain data longer for compliance or business intelligence needs, and better protect data stored by mobile workers.

"Before, those areas went underserved or were flat-out ignored," said Russell. "People en masse are re-evaluating their infrastructures. One of the reasons [de-duplication] is sought after is the payback is very demonstrable."

In particular, Russell said that in large organisations, file management can easily go unnoticed, compared with the scrutiny e-mail and database administration typically get.

"Files are kind of left for dead, and no one really comes back to groom them or 'garbage-collect,'" Russell added. "So organisations keep backing up data that may actually be dormant."