Ask Dr Dedupe

Hi, my name is Larry Freeman and I’ve been in the data storage industry for about 30 years.  For the past 5 years I’ve worked at NetApp, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of enterprise storage systems.  I’ve had quite a few roles at NetApp, but my current one is that of a data storage technologist.

As a storage technologist, I study trends in the industry and help describe NetApp’s technical direction.  One of the early trends I saw when I first came to NetApp was the growing interest in deduplication.  Deduplication was solving a big problem, but most people weren’t sure exactly how it worked and whether or not they should use it.  I saw that NetApp’s approach to deduplication a little different from everyone else’s, so I took it upon myself to become an evangelist for this technology, which lead to 3 things:  The nickname “Dr Dedupe”, a blog called “Ask Dr Dedupe”, and a book called “The Insider’s Guide To Data Deduplication.”  I am happy to report that deduplication eventually became one the fastest growing features in NetApp history, and today over 100,000 of our systems crunching data down with deduplication.

As I traveled down the data storage path over the past few decades, the changes I’ve witnessed have been astonishing.  Disk and tape device capacities have grown by a factor of +1 million.  Storage device time-to-failure rates have grown from hours to years.  New technologies such SAN and NAS, RAID, and today’s SSDs have and will continue to evolve as the industry matures and we meet the challenge to find innovative ways to quickly store and retrieve ever-increasing amounts of data.

Witnessing the evolution first-hand inspired me to write the book “Evolution of the Storage Brain.”  This book encapsulates the transformative events that shaped our industry – as storage devices got smarter and smarter.  Technologies that showed great promise and were eventually embraced (or ultimately discarded) are described in detail.  Delving into all aspects of the storage brain, there are 9 central themes I investigate:

  • Disk Drive Evolution – From 5 MB to 100 TB
  • Device and Data Protection – The birth of RAID and self-healing systems
  • Storage Controllers – Mainframe-attached controllers become intelligent “Storage Brains”
  • Storage Memory – Core Memory, RAM, and SSD’s
  • Storage Communications – From Bus and Tag to SCSI and beyond
  • Storage Efficiency – Thin Provisioning, Deduplication and More
  • Storage Virtualization – Designing the virtual storage system of the future

Once my assertions are made, I use history as a mechanism to make dozens of predictions about where I think data storage will evolve in the future. In conjunction with the book I also created a website  This website is a bit of an experiment in hopes to continue the discussions I started in the book.  I blog regularly on this site about emerging storage technologies and also provide a research library to let you do your own fact-finding.  Because technology can be a little, shall we say, dry, at times, I also try to have a little fun with the website with weekly “Friday Fun Facts” and “Storage-Brain Teasers.”  Check out this site and let me know if you like it!  You can contact me anytime on twitter @StorageBrain.



Larry Freeman

About Larry Freeman

During his 30-year career in the data storage industry, Larry has held various Engineering, Sales and Product Management positions with companies such as Data General, Telex Computer Products, NEC Information Systems, Spectra Logic, and NetApp. A frequent speaker and author, Larry's current role at NetApp is evangelizing data storage technology trends. Larry is an active member of the Storage Networking Industry Association's Green Storage Initiative (GSI) and Data Protection and Capacity Optimization (DPCO) committee. He has authored the book "Evolution of the Storage Brain", and hosts a popular blog at

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