Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 7. 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.
For each of the presentations I attended at SFD7, there are a few things I want to include in the post. Firstly, you can see video footage of the Catalogic Software presentation here. You can also download my raw notes from the presentation here. Finally, here’s a link to the Catalogic Software website that covers some of what they presented.
According to their website, “ECX is an intelligent copy data management [IDM] platform that allows you to manage, orchestrate and analyze your copy data lifecycle across your enterprise and cloud”. If you’ve ever delivered storage in an enterprise environment before, you’ll understand that copy data management (CDM) is something that can have a significant impact on your infrastructure, and it’s not always something people do well, or even understand.
Ed Walls, CEO of Catalogic, talked a bit about current challenges – growth, manageability, business agility. We’re drowning in a deluge of copy data, with most of these copies sit completely idle. This observation certainly aligns with my experience in a number of environments.
Catalogic’s IDM is a combination of your storage (currently only NetApp) and a CDM platform (provided via an agentless, downloadable VM). You can use this platform to provide “copy data leverage”, enabling orchestration and automation of your copy data. Catalogic also state that this enables you to:
- Simplify business processes with ‘copy data’ / ‘use data’ workflows;
- Extract more value from your copy data services;
- Provide protection compliance / snapshots; and
- File analytics / Search, Report and Analyse.
In addition to this, Catalogic spoke about ECX’s ability to provide:
- Next-generation Data protection, with instant recovery and disaster recovery leveraging snap data;
- Killer App for Hybrid Cloud, enabling business to leverage cloud “scale and economics”; and
- Copy Data Analytics with snapshots, file analytics, protection compliance. This gives you the ability to search, report and analyse.
It’s not in-line, but rather uses public APIs to orchestrate. In this scenario, tape’s not dead, it’s just not used for operational recovery. You can use it for archive instead.
The basic architecture is as follows:
- Layer 0 – OS Services (Linux)
- Layer 1 – Core Services – NoSQL (MongoDB) amongst them, scheduler, reporting, dir, lic mgmt, index search, web, java / REST, DBMS (PostgreSQL), Messaging
- ECX MGMT REST APIs
- Layer 2 – Management Services – account, policy, job, catalog, report, resource, event, alert, provision, search
- Layer 3 – Policy-based Services – NTAP catalog, VMware catalog, NTAP CDM, VMware CDM
- Layer 4 – Presentation Services
Here’s a picture that takes those dot points, and adds visualisation.
Catalogic went through a live demo with us, and it *looks* reasonably straightforward. A few things to note:
- Configure – uses a provider model (one-time registration process for the NTAP controller or VMware)
- ECX is an abstraction layer – workflow, notification, submit
- Uses a site-based model
- You can have a VMs and Templates or Datastore view
- VM snapshots are quiesced sequentially
- Creating trees of snapshots via workflow
- Everything is driven via REST API
Is it a replacement for backup? No. But businesses are struggling with traditional backup and recovery methods. Combination of snapshots and tapes is appealing for some people. It “Doesn’t replace it, but reduces the dependency on backups”.
In my opinion, searching the catalogue is pretty cool. They don’t crack open the VMDK to catalogue yet, but it’s been requested by a lot of people and is on their radar.
Final Thoughts and Further Reading
There’s a lot to like about ECX in my opinion, although a number of delegates (myself included) were mildly disappointed that this is currently tied to NetApp. Catalogic, in their defence, are well aware of this as a limitation and are working really hard to broaden the storage platform support.
The cataloguing capability of the product looked great in the demo I saw, and I know I have a few customers who could benefit from a different approach to CDM. Or, more accurately, it would better is they had any approach at all.