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Capacity Optimization- A Core Storage Technology

Brad O'Neill
Monday, May 1, 2006
Brad O'Neill
The past 3 years have seen rapid and significant shifts in how storage solutions approach capacity management. New archiving and backup solutions are now achieving massive levels of efficiencies, far beyond any technology in history. To date, the industry has not collectively agreed on a common descriptor for this extremely critical enabling technology—Capacity Optimization (CO), and the various storage solutions stemming from this technology termed as Capacity Optimized Storage (COS).

Unlike traditional compression techniques that may provide 2x benefits, CO techniques can reduce the storage requirements of content by several magnitudes, in some cases, delivering in excess of 20x compression. CO technologies are seeing adoption today primarily in disk-based data storage and enterprise networking industries where the benefits of reduced capacity and network utilization is most beneficial. Capacity Optimization will play a foundational role in storage system architecture throughout this decade, and its principles therefore merit detailed analysis.

What is Capacity Optimization?
Capacity Optimization (CO) is a new technology designed to massively reduce data down to its raw essentials. Unlike traditional compression which typically reduces data to half of its previous size, capacity optimization can reduce standard business data down to a twentieth or less of the original size. This is achieved by breaking the data into a small number of fundamental parts which when replicated can be used to rebuild the original data. This technique is being used both in storage devices and also networking devices to build much more cost-effective systems.

For example, a storage device that utilizes CO can store 20x as much data as a standard one at the same cost. A capacity optimized network can transmit 20x as much data as a non-optimized one again all for the same price. This order of magnitude cost reduction in capacity optimized technologies vs. standard ones is ensuring that all future system designs will at some point implement this technology.

A Lexicon for Capacity Optimization

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