Does Your Copy Data Solution Play Checkers or Chess? – Catalogic Briefing Note

A copy data management solution should save organization’s money in two areas. First, and most obvious, physical capacity consumption by creating virtual copies instead of actual copies, but any storage system with snapshot capabilities can at some level claim that capability. The second is for savings when the copy data management solution can create these copies in an automated, repeatable fashion. That saves the organization something more valuable than money – time.

The challenge is that the automated creation of copies, as well as the orchestration of their delivery, requires a clean interface to the data set in question. Considering the overwhelming data type copy requested is a copy of a database, then the clean and low impact access becomes even more critical.

Many vendors now claim some sort of copy data function, typically built on their snapshot technology. We call that playing checkers: hit the right checkboxes and claim you have a copy data management solution. In fairness, many storage systems can snapshot the data they store via the appropriate database APIs, ensuring clean access to that data. But these systems fall short in a number of ways and that keeps them off the chessboard. First, the copy can never leave the primary storage system. What if the DevOps team is using a different system, or IT policy doesn’t allow for development to happen on production storage? The second problem is there is almost no management of these snapshots beyond some very basic retention. As we discuss in our article: “Orchestrating Copy Data“, orchestration is far more that snapshot scheduling.

Catalogic Software’s ECX resolves these challenges. First, the software works with a variety of hardware platforms including NetApp, IBM Spectrum Storage, Pure Storage and DellEMC Unity. Second, the software provides extensive automation and orchestration. For more on the Catalogic basics click here.

Since that original release Catalogic has been busy, adding cloud support, database support and additional storage platforms. In its latest release, Catalogic ECX 2.6 extends support to InterSystems Caché, Epic Electronic Health Record, SAP HANA, plus it enhances its support for Microsoft SQL Server.

Catalogic had support for MS-SQL in the ECX 2.5 release, but that support was for MS-SQL on VMware. There are a lot of physical MS-SQL servers out there and often they are not-virtualized because they are mission critical. So, Catalogic expanded its support to physical systems. But it’s still an agentless solution. Communication with MS-SQL is done via run-time code injection, so the code is always current and lightweight. As we discuss in our article comparing copy data management solutions they use the storage array to take the copy, not the host.

One sign that a product is maturing is when it moves off the checkerboard (a tactical solution) and onto the chessboard (a strategic solution). In copy data management, the checkerboard is supporting the obvious databases like MS-SQL and Oracle. The chessboard is moving to more vertical, but more strategic, applications. For example, ECX 2.6 adds support for healthcare software, which is in need of the most rapid of recoveries, as well as easier Dev-Test setups. ECX 2.6 supports InterSystems Caché and Epic Electronic Health Record (EHR) opening new opportunities for healthcare IT.

ECX 2.6 adds support for SAP HANA as well. SAP is one of the most used business applications in enterprises around the world and the future for SAP is SAP HANA. Now Catalogic storage partners can deliver high-value protection and recovery and copy data management, which opens the SAP HANA door for them.

StorageSwiss Take

We covered Catalogic since its first release. In that time, it has moved from a niche NetApp solution to a multi-vendor copy data management solution. Now as it adds coverage of an increasing number of databases, the value of the solution continues to increase. Copy data management has both short term benefits and long term strategic advantages. Organizations should consider the technology a foundational component of an entire storage strategy not just their data protection process.

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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