DataGravity Intellectual Property Innovates Storage

DataGravity was recently granted its first patent for our “System and Method of Data Intelligent Storage.” I smiled when I saw that the patent was granted for a few reasons:

  • The patent granting happened really fast – at least in the world of patents – less than two years after we filed the application.
  • The patent validates the uniqueness of the idea that led me, John Joseph and others to start DataGravity in April 2012.
  • It also declares that the storage market is primed for disruption and that data-aware storage is arriving at just the right time.

The truth is I don’t believe that a patent in and of itself is something that should be wildly celebrated, but what matters is the value that that intellectual property (IP) will deliver and the problems it will solve. Think about it this way, someone likely holds the patent on creating a text Christmas tree in a nested for loop, so it’s tough to pat yourself on the back for too long.

Simply put, IP for the sake of IP doesn’t interest me. I’ll never be a proponent of having folks rewarded for writing patents that don’t solve real problems and that will likely never be commercialized. I’m also not big fan of what a friend calls gratuitous innovation either. Building cool stuff no one can or will use just isn’t something to get excited about. What I do get excited about is innovative technologies that solve real problems for real people in an efficient and understandable way.

I have three simple rules when I think about IP and innovation:

#1 – Can it be built?
#2 – Should it be built?
#3 –
Has someone already built it?

For me, in order for something to be truly innovative, it must answer the first two questions with yes and the third question with no. Let’s apply these simple rules to our patent that describes the core technologies that data-aware storage is built upon and see how DataGravity measures up:

Can it be built?
Five years ago the answer was no, data-aware storage could not be built. The hardware and software tools hadn’t evolved to the point that the storage architecture could be re-defined to accommodate the new demands. While data-aware storage is built on 100% software innovation, modern hardware made it possible. Today the answer is yes, with advanced techniques in data path construction and metadata handling, data-awareness can be built in the confines of a storage platform leveraging the data paths and high availability mechanisms that modern hardware delivers.

Should it be built?
To say yes to this question, there must be a clear customer value. In the case of data-aware storage, the answer is yes.  Data-aware storage gives IT administrators, audit/security/compliance managers, and end users insights into their data that they never had before. They can leverage these insights to optimize their business and to protect it from risks.

Has someone already built it?
No, data-aware storage hasn’t been built before. Sure, there are layered products that are deployed across the IT infrastructure that attempt to provide similar benefits.  However, these products don’t offer insight into the context of the data – the people, content and time. They are also complex to implement and maintain, and often can only be run in off hours since they weigh down the storage array.  Not to mention the added expense of layering on a number of additional products to search, manage, protect and backup/recover the data.

So, all-in-all, it’s cool that we received our first patent. What’s cooler though is that we’ve created an innovative technology that has changed table stakes for storage. Data-aware storage brings intelligence and insight to what was once just a black box, changing what users should expect from storage.

To learn more about the DataGravity patented architecture, download our whitepaper here.

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Paula Long

Paula Long is the CEO and co-founder of DataGravity. She previously co-founded storage provider EqualLogic, which was acquired by Dell for $1.4 billion in 2008. She remained at Dell as vice president of storage until 2010. Prior to EqualLogic, she served in engineering management positions at Allaire Corporation and oversaw the ClusterCATS product line at Bright Tiger Technologies. She is a graduate of Westfield State College.