Rob Peglar, VP of Technology at Xiotech (, says:

What are some techniques small to midsized enterprises can use to get the most from their existing storage system?

There are three existing techniques to perform data reduction – compression, incrementalization and deduplication. Beyond that, there is the tried and true technique of data classification – that is, knowing what you are storing in the first place, and avoiding the storage of unnecessary data.

What do they need to know before getting started?

Mostly, they need to know that many of the tools necessary are already built-into the operating systems and filesystems they are using today.

What products, tools, and the types of programs will they need to invest in?

The investment is more about education than buying products or services. Education is the first step – e.g. what happens if I compress a filesystem or a volume? What happens if I use a versioning (incrementalization) technique? Before investing in any new tool, learn about the underlying technique.

What are the costs involved?

The cost involved is the time required to educate users and yourself. In dollar terms, many of the tools are free and/or built-in (already paid for). Data reduction is not necessarily an expensive proposition.

What are the benefits and pitfalls?

This is a question that could have a very long answer…but the benefit of some of the simpler techniques is immediate. For example, compressing a filesystem may reduce the data by 50%, freeing up half the currently used space. Most CPUs today can handle compression without the user noticing that their files are actually compressed on disk. Nearly all filesystems allow for individual files or directories to be compressed as well as the entire filesystem.