Actifio solves data explosion blues
Data virtualisation makes light of data backup, recovery complexities
If you have not heard of copy data virtualisation, you are not alone.
While there’s a high degree of virtualisation in the IT industry today especially at the server and network level, the situation is less so in the backend -storage, backup or archiving. The reason for this, notes Grant Amos, general manager, MEA, for Actifio, is because data virtualisation is simply more complicated.
“Data virtualisation is not as straightforward” says Amos. “For one, you have storage which has different frontiers of licensing and then there are backups where different retention policies will require different forms of licensing. The same applies for archiving and deduplication, further complicated when you add replication. Thus, the whole back-end is yet to be fully virtualised.”
This is where Actifio can help, Amos says, because the company has the technology to enable companies effectively virtualise all those backend functions using a single product.
The concept of copy data virtualisation, Amos explains, is taking a single copy of the source data, and using technology such as Actifio’s to virtually provision images that are rewriteable to different areas. This means that for backup for instance, the solution will take copies of point in time and then instantly provision a virtual image for recovery purposes.
The same model applies to other uses such as test development, says Amos. “Traditionally, if you had ten test developers, you would need to move ten copies of data for them to use. With Actifio however, we would provision ten virtual images instantly for them to use which takes up no storage and is far quicker,” explains Amos. “Similarly for business analytics, you would again provision a full virtual rewritable image of the database to the analytics tool. The advantages are in the sheer speed, having not to make physical copies of data while taking out cost and time out of an environment.”
The typical organisation probably has got six to ten tools to deliver this functionality of managing copy data, Amos observes, with Actifio able to replace all those with a single tool. This translates into significant cost savings, both CAPEX and OPEX, as well as operational management basis because this is one tool with a two-day learning curve, allowing organisations to replace the learning curve of multiple tool sets. “Apart from that, we deliver far batter SLAs to the business because what we are using is effectively smart type technology. First, this means that people’s backup windows disappear. Secondly, since we are taking incremental backups, the system can take these images say every 30 minutes or an hour, translating into far better recovery points are now far better,” he adds.
Copy data is increasingly being seen as a major concern by organisations of all stripes as exponential data growth threatens to overwhelm many of these firms. The problem these organisations are having is not their core production data, Amos notes, it is the copies of data. This means that if their core production data goes up by a terabyte, and they have say five different applications and tools to make copies, their actual capacity on site goes up by five terabytes. With Actifio, however, its one unit of core data to one copy data ratio, as opposed to one-in-five increase in data, curbing data growth in these organisations, Amos says.
Actifio solution is primarily software, so it can work on both physical and virtual platforms, explains Amos. “It depends on where you want to place the compute; you can place the compute on our own OEM’d clustered enterprise gateways or you can run the compute on a virtual machine. The choice is with the customer where they want to provision,” Amos adds.
Amos says Actifio is also hardware-independent, so organisation’s investment in storage is protected. “This is typically on low-cost SATA drive, and we will even virtualise the disk beneath so that if people have multiple types from different manufacturers of disks, we can virtualise all of that to create a single portal to store that data,” Amos adds. The process can today even be managed remotely using mobile apps, Amos observes.
With tradition recovery or even deduplication devices, Amos observes, one will need to rehydrate data, move it and then send it back to storage. “With Actifio, we instantly provision any size data to virtual or physical environments, taking recovery time objectives (RTOs) down to seconds. Likewise in DevOps, a test developer will typically have to wait for approval to use the space, then wait for that data to be moved into his environment. This process is virtual with Actifio, so this happens far much quicker, and it means that we are actually accelerating application time to markets for companies as well as delivering those SLAs and cost savings,” Amos adds.
A lot of Actifio’s business today is coming from through service providers, Amos says. “Historically, service providers were able to easily provision virtualised servers and network. It is in the back-end they struggled to make money out of it. With Actifio however, they can simplify that environment, commoditise it and present it back together with self-provision and orchestration. They are thus now able to deliver things like backup as a service, DR as a service, etc., which are simpler using the technology that we offer,” Amos says.
Moving forward, Actifio’s solutions, primarily enterprise-oriented, are now increasingly being made available to smaller enterprise customers. Actifio today is taking the entire suite of solutions and allowing it to be packaged into smaller components. Examples include Agility for test development and Resilience for backup which allows organisations to benefit from the technology but at a lower entry point. “The goal today is taking what was essentially an enterprise-only based technology and bringing it more into the SME market place,” Amos says.