Deduplication Versus Compression

Posted by VIOLIN SYSTEMS on Nov 9, 2020 10:34:20 AM

We live in an either/or world. Coffee or tea. Chocolate or vanilla. Right or left. North or south. Day or night.

In such a world of polarizing choices, many data storage companies are used to making a choice, and when this happens, the customers feel the effects—they also have to choose.

So when it comes to data reduction, the question often arises, “Data deduplication or compression?”

Let’s take a look at how data compression and deduplication differ and why you may not have to live in such a this or that world. You have additional options!

What is Data Compression?

Data compression is a space-saving data storage technique used to reduce a stored file’s size by removing redundant data. Think of it a little bit like storing your winter sweaters in a plastic bag and using a vacuum cleaner to pull all the air out of it.

The techniques used to compress data makes files smaller to consume less disk space and store more files on a single disk. Perhaps it means taking a 100-kilobyte (KB) file and removing the extra space so that it only takes up 52 KB. In some cases, this is accomplished by replacing long character strings with short representations instead. 

But what happens when you want to reaccess this information? Do you lose this “redundant” data?

Not necessarily. When you need to read the file, an algorithm recreates the original data to have everything you need.

Almost every file can be compressed, but if there’s not much redundant data there, it won’t reduce the file size too much. Since every file is different, it’s hard to say how much the file size will be reduced until the algorithm has been applied and the file compressed.

All About Data Deduplication

So, how does data deduplication differ from compression? On the surface, they may seem similar, but their methodologies are quite different.

Data deduplication is comparable to compression, except compression can only find redundant blocks within the same file. Deduplication is like the compression of your entire database. It can pinpoint and eliminate redundancies between different directories and data types, even on other servers in more than one location.

Deduplication, also called “dedupe” by those in the know, breaks up data into “chunks,” or blocks of data. These chunks are compared to all other chunks within the dedupe system. These chunks are processed through an algorithm, and if chunks match, they are considered identical and redundant duplicates are removed. 

Since even the smallest change between one chunk and another causes the entire chunk to change, there’s no risk of losing similar data, as only comparable data is eliminated. This is especially helpful for small things like similar blocks found for sent mail folders, inboxes, and local saved versions of emails and more massive datasets like backups of entire systems. If you update your data and then back it up again, a dedupe system will be able to pinpoint the segments that have changed and only back up those chunks. It’s easy to see how data deduplication can quickly reduce the amount of data you store.

Data Compression, Deduplication, and All-Flash Performance

Flash storage is a well-established storage infrastructure component; it’s an increasingly popular option, having grown from a $25.1 billion industry in 2013 to a projected industry value of $64.24 billion in 2021. This is because data is growing in volume so quickly that the need for high-performance storage that can keep up is forced to grow right along with it.

Big data analytics, for example, is expected to grow from $5.3 billion in 2018 to an impressive $19.4 billion in 2026. But with all of this data collecting in Flash-powered storage and non-volatile memory express (NVMe) solutions, too much data can have a massive impact on the total cost of ownership.

Both deduplication and compression decrease the size of unique data to free up your storage capacity, which is crucial in this data-driven economy. While deduplication and compression are useful, each has some challenges as well. 

Data deduplication “mileage” can vary from enterprise to enterprise based on how much your data is duplicated. However, grouping dissimilar data can help you increase your deduplication ratio. You can’t reduce your deduplication ratio independently, and you won’t know your actual deduplication ratio until you go through with it. However, there are some reasonably accurate assessments available.

But compression can solve some of these problems by reducing the size of each file. While on their own, neither solution is ideal; together, users have access to a fuller data reduction approach.

Get the Best of Both Worlds

The real solution to balancing the perks and offsetting the challenges of both deduplication and compression?

Find a product that combines the power of deduplication and compression in one place.

You don’t have to choose between deduplication or compression.

Using the perks of both deduplication and compression, individual file sizes are compressed and then reduced even further by eliminating identical data.

For years, VIOLIN Systems has partnered dedupe and compression into a singular solution for lightweight storage without redundancies. This accomplishes three main goals:

  • Low latency`
  • Completeness of function
  • Improved price and performance

By using more than one data reduction technology, VIOLIN Systems can significantly reduce our clients’ data capacities, which lowers the price of flash arrays and makes flash more affordable for workloads of any size. For companies large and small, the savings apply across the board.

Think of it like salt and pepper. Both have distinct flavors, with different jobs to do, but both are necessary to season a meal thoroughly. Otherwise, you could end up with a bland, flavorless dish, or in the case of flash storage, an incomplete system to limit redundancies. 

For less money, VIOLIN System’s all-flash array offers a well-rounded storage solution with lower latency and more robust performance, driving down the total cost of ownership while making big data and flash an affordable option for more than just the largest corporations. It’s double the storage savings in one solution.

If you’re seeking a flash storage system that empowers your operations while keeping your costs low, you need a solution with both deduplication and compression. VIOLIN Systems has the scalable options you need. 

Want to learn more? Contact us today.

Topics: database consolidation, Flash Array, flash storage management