Data Management as a Service – Igneous Briefing Note

Data management is a project that many IT professionals and application owners feel they are too busy or don’t have enough expertise to undertake. Most data management tasks are big projects that take a lot of planning and continuous care and feeding time. They also require a significant amount of upfront capital expenditure (CAPEX) budget.

Simplifying Data Management

Data management is a broad practice that covers all forms of data planning. The “big win” for data management, though, is moving inactive data from production storage to less expensive secondary or cloud storage. Moving old data from primary storage slows down the pace at which the organization needs to upgrade it or buy new systems. Additionally, primary storage benefits from increased performance because data management can reduce the number of files stored on the production tier.

Data management also slows down the pace that the organization needs to purchase and upgrade secondary storage. Removing older data also simplifies the backup process by reducing the size and number of files that the backup process needs to manage.

Data management software, to deliver these quick returns on investment (ROI) needs three core pieces of functionality, protection, identification, and data movement. The solution requires protection because no one wants to do anything to a data set until they are confident that a backup application is protecting it. The solution needs to provide visibility into the organization’s data so that IT can make decisions on how to manage that data. Third, the solution needs to take actions on data, like archiving it to less expensive storage, based on information from the visibility component.

The final requirement is that the solution must be affordable. The challenge that most solutions have is a high upfront CAPEX investment. Vendors sell secondary storage systems dozens of TBs at a time and license data management software similarly. Most customers will remove old data from production storage only as the organization needs to free up capacity to avoid having to purchase a new system. A secondary storage solution that can start small and grow, as the organization needs to make room on production storage, is a less risky approach.

Igneous Data Management as a Service

Igneous has three solutions, available “as-a-service,” that customers can use to develop a simple data management practice that provides the most immediate ROI. Igneous DataProtect is now available “as-a-service.” DataProtect is a backup solution designed specifically for unstructured data. It is also available as an on-premises appliance. The on-premises appliance can mirror a copy of data to the cloud for DR or organizations can use the appliance as a cache, with a full copy of data in the cloud.

The software only solution version eliminates the on-premises appliance and via a customer deployed virtual machine, performs a direct copy of data to the cloud. Given the reduced cost and improved bandwidth of WAN connections as well as the reduced price of cloud storage, a direct to cloud transfer is more practical than ever. The advantage of direct to the cloud is it eliminates the need for setting aside space for on-premises secondary storage.

The “as-a-service” version of DataProtect has all the capabilities of the on-premises version that Storage Switzerland covered in its briefing note “How to Backup Big NAS.”

In addition to DataProtect Igneous has another essential component of the Data Management foundation; DataDiscover. The DataDiscover solution is also available as a service. Igneous claims that it is easy to implement, again by installing a small virtual machine. It leverages a technology, called AdaptiveSCAN, to deliver its file analytic results quickly, in minutes or hours instead of the more typical days or weeks of other solutions. The primary goal of DataDiscover is to provide the organization with information on file data based on its age, what data is active, and what data is cold.

The next essential element of the Igneous solution is DataDiscover’s ability to take action based on the information it provides. IT administrators or even application owners can select a set of data and with a click of a button archive it to the cloud or promote it to higher performing storage.

The solution does not use stub files or symbolic links to create transparent access to a file’s archived location. There is merit in not having this feature. Using stub files and symbolic links are often problematic. Leveraging them to build a complex architecture to provide transparent access to data not active for years seems like a waste of resources. Igneous’ approach of keeping it simple may mean the occasional need for IT to jump in and copy data back into production, but those requests are often few and far between.

StorageSwiss Take

Data management solutions often collapse under their own weight. They try to do too much instead of addressing the area of data management that provides the fastest ROI, which is removing old data from production. The category of data that most organizations are going to move is unstructured data. Having protection, visibility, and movement built into a data management solution that focuses just on unstructured data makes the process more straightforward to implement and maintain over time. Additionally, having the data management solution available as a service makes the solution affordable from day one.

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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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