Overview of Hardware Versus Software Deduplication for Backup
(Preface: This section refers to hardware deduplication at the storage device – which is the most common form of hardware deduplication. For more information concerning hardware deduplication in a vertically integrated appliance, see the “Introducing Adaptive Deduplication” chapter later in this paper.)
The term “hardware” deduplication refers to a storage device such as a NAS that is dedicated to deduplicating that storage. “Software” deduplication refers to non-integrated commodity software packages that support deduplication of some form in software for a server and some attached storage.
The advantage of software deduplication is that it doesn’t cost that much money to purchase. The disadvantage is that it costs a whole lot of money when you add in not only all of the components of the solution but the expense of trying to make it work. What the software vendor is doing is basically pushing back onto the buyer all of the integration, management, and monitoring work.
The advantage of hardware deduplication is that the vendor has done all of the integration, management, and monitoring work for the deduplication for the storage device. The disadvantage is that the capital expenditure is higher and that the integration, management, and monitoring work must be done between the rest of the backup solution (i.e., it’s only storage that is integrated.)