Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 22. Some 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.
The Age Of Data, Not Storage
It’s probably been the age of data for some time now, but I couldn’t think of a catchy heading. One comment from the Komprise folks during the presentation that really stood out to me was “Data outlives its storage infrastructure”. If I think back ten years to how I thought about managing data movement, it was certainly tied to the storage platform hosting the data, rather than what the data did. Whenever I had to move from one array to the next, or one protocol to another, I wasn’t thinking in terms of where the data would necessarily be best placed to serve the business. Generally speaking, I was approaching the problem in terms of getting good performance for blocks and files, but rarely was I thinking in terms of the value of the data to the business. Nowadays, it seems that there’s an improved focus on getting the “[d]ata in the right place at the right time – not just for efficiency – but to extract maximum value”. We’re no longer thinking about data in terms of old stuff living on slow storage, and fresh bits living on the fast stuff. As the amount of data being managed in enterprises continues to grow at an insane rate, it’s becoming more important than ever to understand just what usefulness the data offers the business.
[image courtesy of Komprise]
The variety of storage platforms available now is also a little more extensive than it was last century, and that presents some more interesting challenges in getting the data to where it needs to be. As I mentioned earlier, data growth is going berserk the world over. Add to this the problem of ubiquitous cloud access (and IT departments struggling to keep up with the governance necessary to wrangle these solutions into some sensible shape), and most enterprises looking to save money wherever possible, and data management can present real problems to most enterprise shops.
[image courtesy of Komprise]
Analytics To The Rescue!
Komprise has come up with an analytics-driven approach to data management that is built on some sound foundational principles. The solution needs to:
- Go beyond storage efficiency – it’s not just about dedupe and compression at a certain scale.
- Must be multi-directional – you need to be able to get stuff back.
- Not disrupt users and workflows – do that and you may as well throw the solution in the bin.
- Should create new uses for your data – it’s all about value, after all.
- Puts your data first.
The final point is possibly the most critical one. If I think about the storage-centric approaches to data management that I’ve seen over the years, there’s definitely been a viewpoint that the underlying storage infrastructure would heavily influence how the data is used, rather than the data dictating how the storage platforms should be architected. Some of that is a question of visibility – if you don’t understand your data, it’s hard to come up with tailored solutions. Some of the problem is also the disconnect that seems to exist between “the business” and IT departments in a large number of enterprises. It’s not an easy problem to solve, by any stretch, but it does explain some of the novel approaches to data management that I’ve seen over the years.
Thoughts and Further Reading
Data management is hard, and it keeps getting harder because we keep making more and more data. And we frequently don’t have the time, or take the time, to work out what value the data actually has. This problem isn’t going to go away, so it’s good to see Komprise moving the conversation past that and into the realm of how we can best focus on deriving value from the data itself. There was certainly some interesting discussion during the presentation about the term analytics, and what that really meant in terms of the Komprise solution. Ultimately, though, I’m a fan of anything that elevates the conversation beyond “I can move your terabytes from this bucket to that bucket”. I want something that starts to tell me more about what type of data I’m storing, who’s using it, and how they’re using it. That’s when it gets interesting from a data management perspective. I think there’s a ways to go in terms of getting this solution right for everyone, but it strikes me that Komprise is on the right track, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the solution evolves alongside the storage technologies it’s using to get the most from everyone’s data. You can read more on the Komprise approach here.