Bringing Copy Data Management as a Service to Enterprises – Actifio GO SaaS Briefing Note

There is no doubt that production data is growing, but copy data is growing even faster. More data must be backed up as the stricter compliance landscape creates more comprehensive retention requirements, and copy data is being used to serve a growing range of secondary but important business processes such as DevOps and analytics.

Copy data sprawl saddles the enterprise with an expensive cost burden. In fact, IDC estimates that $50.6 billion was spent in 2018 on infrastructure, data governance and security related to copy data – and that this figure will grow to $55.63 billion by the end of 2020. In addition, copy data sprawl slows innovation (for example, extending the time that application developers need to wait and slowing the time to business insights). Copy data management (CDM) solutions help to drive down the number of copies that are being created and the infrastructure used to store and manage these copies. However, to date most have not added agility (it still takes too long to obtain, refresh, share and analyze data) or a more cost effective, subscription-based pricing model.

Actifio GO SaaS

CDM pioneer Actifio has launched its Actifio GO software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based multi-cloud copy data management solution to reduce the cost structure, accelerate time-to-value, and increase the agility of CDM. Initially, the platform specifically addresses backup use cases for VMware server virtualization-based environments. Actifio plans to add support for other use cases (including disaster recovery, migration and test use cases) and platforms (including databases and cloud-native platform-as-a-service) during 2019.

According to Actifio, GO can cut backup infrastructure total cost of ownership (TCO) by up to 40% through eliminating the need for on-premises backup storage (virtual machines are backed up directly to a cloud storage service) and reducing the associated operational burden of managing such storage. The software is licensed on a per-virtual machine (VM) basis, with a minimum commitment covering 100 VMs for one year.

Actifio claims that its GO customers can deploy backup jobs within one hour of getting started with the service – without the support of a specialized storage or backup administrator. Once the customer has signed up, they select the VMs they want to protect, the cloud they want to back up to (with cloud object storage services from Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Wasabi), and desired retention policies. Data replication is controlled through the Actifio Sky software. In addition to providing freedom of choice in cloud service provider, Actifio uses a “bring-your-own-cloud-account” approach to ensure that the customer can still access their data if they choose to move off of Actifio. GO stores data in application native format so that customers are not locked into the solution. An easy-to-use cloud-based Actifio dashboard and robust metadata tagging supports the speed and the simplicity of this process. Data may be captured in as granular of a window as every one hour, but IT professionals should be aware that performance will vary and depends on the bandwidth and latency from their data center to their cloud service provider (CSP).

Actifio applies an incremental forever method for fast, efficient backup jobs and recovery. Alongside granular file and folder search, Actifio claims that it can mount and recover VMs instantly. These VMs are “streamed” back to the data center from the cloud provider, so performance of the VM will directly depend on bandwidth and latency. However, an on-premises cache can be provisioned to provide fast and consistent recovery speeds for mission-critical applications. The on-premises Actifio data mover (Actifio Sky appliance) can start with four cores and 16 gigabytes (GB) of random access memory (RAM) that can protect up to 400 VMs.

From a security standpoint, backups can be marked immutable, and even administrators cannot delete them. This provides a layer of protection against ransomware but like any cloud service is still susceptible to a rogue administrator or hacker gaining control of the cloud account, as evidenced by the recent VFEmail hacking incident that wiped out 18 years’ worth of data. To protect against such incidents, Actifio GO has integrated with IBM Cloud Object Storage for WORM capability which ensures even cloud account owners can’t delete the backups. Data is also encrypted both in transit and at rest. Furthermore, service level agreements (SLAs) may be set up, for instance for backup retention, to address compliance regulations.

StorageSwiss Take

All IT vendors must offer a range of deployment models today to satisfy customers’ varying appetites for technology consumption and payment. For its part, Actifio is applying its rich heritage in pioneering CDM in mission-critical, enterprise-caliber accounts to bring enterprise-grade backup capabilities to a SaaS delivery model via GO. The vendor’s alliances with IBM, Google and other managed service providers (MSPs) will extend the availability of GO to a range of enterprises.

Its ability to avoid on-premises infrastructure deployments entirely makes Actifio GO unique. Low pricing of $55 per VM for a three-year subscription will appeal to enterprises with large VM farms that are looking to leverage the cloud to lower their costs. Specifically, the service stands to reduce on-premises backup storage infrastructure requirements (thus minimizing upfront capital expenses and overprovisioning), and to offload backup software upgrades and capacity management to Actifio for a reduced operational burden. The SaaS model furthermore stands to accelerate enterprises’ migration to the cloud, thus improving the agility with which IT can respond to DevOps and other secondary but increasingly important business needs.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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