What a difference a year makes

I just completed digging out after recently attending VMWorld 2015. This was my second VMWorld with DataGravity and what a difference a year makes. Here are some of my thoughts on last year’s event, the 12 months in between and what DataGravity experienced this year at VMworld.

Recapping Our Coming Out Party:
It’s been said you aren’t doing anything interesting if at least some folks aren’t questioning your sanity. The introduction of the DataGravity Discovery Series in August of 2014 attracted lots of interest as well as a few naysayers. In the process of introducing data-aware storage, we made some statements that, in retrospect, seem obvious. However a mere twelve months ago when stating “It’s your data, you should know what’s in it” and “how can you protect what you don’t know you have?” we hit a nerve.

After introducing data-aware storage, we exhibited at VMworld 2014. The majority of folks understood our mission and our innovation was recognized by TechTarget awarding DataGravity Best of Show and Best New Technology for VMWorld 2014.

DataGravity team members at VMworld 2014.

The DataGravity team at VMworld 2014.

Last year’s show was a year of introductions, we were telling folks to stop focusing on their storage and start focusing on their data. We stated there are jewels in your data that can help grow your business. We also stated that there are dangers in your data that may possibly damage your business as well. The goal is to maximize the positives and minimize the negatives. People generally accepted these statements.

We also spent a fair amount of time nerding out about the new storage architecture we created. While other vendors (you know who they are) claim to have deep insights into the data, what they really have is sales tools telling you why you need to buy more stuff from them. People looked at us like we were from a different planet when we told them their first mission was to figure out what they have, figure out what is no longer needed and delete the stuff that isn’t necessary. We proved this by showing people through our GUI how easily it is to do. People smiled when they saw how easy it was to use and visualize their data. We also challenged any dedupe master to do better at saving space than through deleting files that aren’t needed or aren’t used.

Post VMworld 2014

Signed by the DataGravity team

Signed by the DataGravity team

After our coming out party, which constituted the launch and show, we spent the last year delivering data-aware storage to our customers. All told, 100% of these customers found things in their unstructured data that shouldn’t have been there. What we learned during the past year is we were merging multiple worlds – storage, analytics and security – into one primary storage device.

The words used in these worlds are similar, but the meanings are pretty different.  For example, we’ve sought to introduce a universal definition of data loss. We also aimed to show over the past year that if data was accessible before and now it’s not, it is compromised and lost, regardless of how it became inaccessible.

We also learned that many customers wanted to focus on limiting their downside first, by securing their data before they pursued extracting the value and insights found within their stored unstructured data. In response to this our V2 release gave storage a self-defense class and we launched our improved Discovery Series platform in early August of 2015.

Back to San Francisco for VMworld 2015

Back to San Francisco for VMworld 2015

VMworld 2015 – Focused on Uncovering the Truth in Your Data
At VMworld this year the conversations were about data-aware storage and data war stories. When I asked attendees what they knew about their data and how their current infrastructure helped them understand their data, I received no answers: merely shrugs.  I then asked if they thought if there were issues in the data they managed. This was probably not the best question to ask in a public place, since most folks looked uncomfortable while formulating an answer. These folks understood they were moving from simply managing traditional storage (black boxes) to managing data (a living entity that could help or hurt their business). The lack of answers and visible level of discomfort on the faces of those whom I spoke with at VMworld reinforce that many IT professionals just aren’t sure how to make this transition.

When I said 100% of the data sets that we scanned had issues, the booth visitors weren’t surprised. They wanted to learn more about data-aware storage. Some were uncertain about what they would find; the simple answer was you won’t know until you look. I encouraged folks if they were interested to contact DataGravity or a DataGravity Partner.

We then talked about what others had found in their data. Lots of folks found they had a problem similar to what Sony experienced. They had unprotected files with usernames and passwords in them (which caused the Sony issues to be more pervasive than they might have been).  You’d think by now that this type of issue would be on an IT bloopers reel.

There were also clear case credit cards and social security numbers in places where unauthorized people could access them (copy/paste isn’t always a good thing). People found insecure Intellectual Property. They saw people data dumping before leaving a job. They found 100s GBs to TBs of data that had not been accessed in a year and didn’t contain company confidential or critical information – simply wasting storage capacity. In some cases the content owners had been long gone from the company.  As we told these data stories, IT Professionals knew the stories could have easily been about them. They had tons of good questions and wanted to learn more.

We had a great time at VMWorld 2015. While other storage companies were talking about how their arrays used cheap flash more effectively than someone else, or how they are capable of taking an infinite number of snapshots to the cloud; DataGravity spoke to those who came by our booth about how we’re able to share insights after scanning multiple PBs of data across a wide variety of industries and customers.

There were lots differences in the profiles of the businesses whose representatives stopped and talked with DataGravity in San Francisco but they all had one thing in common under the veneer of storage sheet metal. They had a data problem and DataGravity is the only storage platform that is able to provide a comprehensive solution.

Do you have a data problem you need help with?  Let us know.

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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.