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Doing Data Storage Differently

A well-funded startup, DataGravity promises to unlock the potential of data stored on its appliances.

DataGravity's been in stealth mode for a long time. But after being officially announced more than a year and a half ago, the company de-cloaked this week, unveiling its first two storage appliances. What's different, though, is how it deals with the data stored on those boxes.

It offers what the company calls "a 360-degree view" of data. That allows it to track usage patterns, and offers "content-aware" search and discovery tools. On the front end is an HTML5 interface, making it accessible from multiple browsers and devices. Through it, information can be gleaned like the top storage users by how much space their content consumes; the most active users; and data that hasn't been accessed in a while (called "Dormant Data" in the UI). This information is available for data stored traditionally, as well as data in virtual machines (VMs).

A video on the DataGravity site demonstrates how this would be useful. An admin can drill down into the Dormant Data and see what files haven't been accessed in the past year, for example. Using that information, the admin can develop a plan to remove or archive the data, freeing up more storage.

Another example from the DataGravity dashboard is "File Categories over Time." Categories include:

  • Audio
  • Compressed
  • Database
  • Spreadsheet
  • Video
  • Directory
  • Image

Files in a DataGravity appliance are opened up, and information is extracted and indexed for use in search and discovery tools. The files can be examined for things like compliance violations. For example, if identifiable credit card information resides in an insecure file, it can be found and flagged. The key point is that data can be searched within the file itself, by drilling down into the file's content.

In a press release, DataGravity quoted Laura Dubois, program vice president of storage at IDC, about the value of this approach. "The DataGravity approach is transformational in an industry where innovation has been mostly incremental. DataGravity data-aware storage can tell you about the data it's holding, making the embedded value of stored information accessible to customers who cannot otherwise support the cost and complexity of solutions available today."

The first product line announced is the Discovery Series, with a price range of $50,000 - $100,000. The cheaper model has a capacity of 48TB, and 96TB for the top-end appliance. It will be available exclusively through a reseller network.

DataGravity, which has raised $42 million in funding, was co-founded by CEO Paula Long, a co-founder of storage vendor EqualLogic. EqualLogic was bought by Dell in 2008 for $1.4 billion. After the acquisition, Long served as vice president of storage until 2010. The other co-founder is John Joseph, who also came from EqualLogic and Dell.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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