Data-Aware Storage: One Pillar At a Time

In my last blog, I touched on the concept of data-aware storage. Today, I thought I would break this down into a few of its component parts: what we often refer to as the four pillars of data-aware storage, or perhaps more appropriately, the four technology pillars. These represent four key technologies that we’ve merged into the Discovery Series product.

Pillar four: State-the-art primary storage
At its core, the Discovery Series is a mid-range unified storage array, architected for performance, availability and reliability. You can’t meaningfully have a storage device if you can’t store and retrieve data reliably and without interruption. In fact, the Discovery Series has a lot in common with the latest-generation mid-range storage arrays on the market today, but unless you’ve upgraded your environment in the last year or two, you may be lacking some advanced features that have yet to achieve widespread deployment, such as inline compression and inline deduplication of virtual machines. This adds up to great savings in terms of production storage footprint – or as it is all the rage to say today, it extends the “effective capacity” of your storage.

Pillar three: Instant recovery and zero-impact protection
Data-aware storage should be self-protecting. Think in terms of taking a target deduplication device and merging it directly with the production storage platform. (By the way, this shouldn’t seem foreign. After all, aren’t dual-parity RAID and data-integrity checksums both self-protecting data protection features?) This “tier 0” disk-to-disk data protection scheme provides an entirely new model for data protection. But what’s more, DataGravity provides a historical catalog of file versions for perusal, much like backup software.

Compared to a backup software and target deduplication device, DataGravity restores files instantly because we know exactly where the data is on disk, we provide the user with an instant preview of the file before restoring it to make sure it is the right one, and we rehydrate “on the fly,” serving up data immediately upon data access requests.

Pillar two: Enhanced data governance
There’s a lot of ways to split this cat as the governance, risk and compliance agenda has a number of tangents and we play in a fair number of those. Fundamentally, what we are doing is recording data activities right in the act as they occur. The application of activity tracking to data governance is natural and obvious, but beyond this, a variety of daily tasks are empowered by knowing the history of who and how data is being updated. And as we integrate activity tracking intimately with the actual content being stored, we get to a detailed understanding of the data’s value to the organization. Which leads me to…

Pillar one: Integrated discovery and search
One of the most powerful features of the DataGravity Discovery Series is its inherent ability to be fully text searchable. This fulfills our ability to simply take terabytes of data and instantly identify a subset of content in which we are topically interested, which might be reflective of a set of keywords, a given time frame, a specific file format, or having been created and accessed by a subset of users. Internet search engines and e-commerce Web experiences have become pervasive in our daily lives; shouldn’t we be able to whittle down our corporate data assets to gain understanding and insight in the same way?

The basic fact is that we have ultimately been conditioned to keep growing our storage resources without the recourse to extract value on the one hand, nor enforce governance on the other. Classic approaches, through layered software crawling through our networks to recover this understanding of our data are not only complex, but can also be costly as well.

The foundational technologies of data-aware storage are these four pillars, but the promise of data-aware storage goes far beyond them. As customers embrace these core capabilities into their workflows, and we encode new levels of automation based on these underlying technologies into our user interface, it will become easier for those customers to more effectively take action based on the insights and events embedded in their data.

Want to learn more about data-aware storage? Download the 451 Research Group report, “DataGravity emerges with bold but intriguing ‘data aware’ storage system.”

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Tim Sherbak

Tim Sherbak leads product marketing at DataGravity, aligned to his passion for helping customers adopt new technologies and solutions to deliver breakthrough results. Tim has held sales and marketing leadership roles in some of the most pioneering companies in technology.