Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 17. My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event. Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.
Komprise recently presented at Storage Field Day 17. You can see their videos from Storage Field Day 17 here, and download a PDF copy of my rough notes from here. Here’s a blurry photo (love that iPhone camera quality) of Kumar K. Goswami (Founder and CEO of Komprise) presenting.
What’s In Your Garage?
My current house has a good sized garage, and we only have one car. So I have a lot of space to store things in it. When we moved in we added some storage cupboards and some additional shelving to accommodate our stuff. Much like Parkinson’s Law (and the corollary for storage systems), the number of things in my garage has expanded to fill the available space. I have toys from when my children were younger, old university assignments, clothes, Christmas decorations, oft-neglected gym equipment. You get the idea. Every year I give a bunch of stuff away to charities or throw it out. But my primary storage (new things) keeps expanding too, so I need to keep moving stuff to my garage for storage.
If you’ve ever had the good (!) fortune of managing file servers, you’ll understand that there’s a lot of data being stored in corporate environments that people don’t know what to do with. As Komprise pointed out in their presentation, we’re “[d]rowning in unstructured data”. Komprise wants to help out by “[i]dentifying cold data and syphoning it off before it goes into the data workflow and data protection systems”. The idea is that it delivers non-disruptive data management. Unlike cleaning up my garage, things just move about based on policies.
How’s That Work Then?
Komprise works by moving unstructured data about the place. It’s a hybrid SaaS solution, with a console in the cloud, and “observers” running in VMs on-premises.
[image courtesy of Komprise]
I don’t want to talk too much about how the product works, as I think the video presentation does a better job of that than I would. And there’s also an excellent article on their website covering the Komprise Filesystem. From a visualisation perspective though, the dashboard presents a “green doughnut”, providing information including:
- Data by age;
- File analytics (size, types, top users, etc); and
- Then set policies and see ROI based on the policy (customer enters their own costs).
When files are moved around, Komprise leaves a “breadcrumb” on the source storage. They were careful not to call it a stub – it’s a Komprise Dynamic Link – a 4KB symbolic link.
It’s A Real Problem
One thing that really struck me about Komprise’s presentation was when they said they wanted to “[m]ove things you don’t want to cheaper storage”. It got me thinking that a lot of corporate file servers are very similar to my garage. There’s an awful lot of stuff being stored on them. Some of it is regularly used (much like my Christmas decorations), and some of it not as much (more like my gym equipment). So why don’t we throw stuff out? Well, when you’re in business, you generally have to work within the confines of various frameworks and regulations. So it’s not as simple as saying “Let’s get rid of the old stuff we haven’t used in 24 months”. Unlike those particularly unhelpful self-help books on decluttering, trashing corporate data isn’t the same as throwing out old boxes of magazines.
This is a real problem for corporations, and is only going to get worse. More and more data is being generated every day, much of it simply dumped on unstructured file stores with little to no understanding of the data’s value. Komprise seem to be doing a good job of helping to resolve an old problem. I still naively like to think that this would be better if people would use document management systems properly and take some responsibility for their stuff. But, much like the mislabelled boxes of files in my garage, it’s often not that simple. People move on, don’t know to do with the data, and assume that the IT folks will take care of it. I think solutions like the one from Komprise, while being technically very interesting, also have an important role to play in the enterprise. I’m just wondering if I can do something like this with all of the stuff in my garage.