Dan's Take

Data Analysis for SMBs

DataGravity builds its comprehensive analysis right into its appliances.

DataGravity dropped by recently to introduce themselves and their product. They believe that medium sized enterprises often don't have a clear idea of who's accessing data, when they're doing it or what private data has found its way into publically accessible directories.  They believe that storage systems should be smarter and track what data they're working with, and make it easy for enterprises to better understand how their data is being used. They believe that their "data aware" storage system provides needed answers.

DataGravity has built an analysis tool into the storage appliance itself. It has integrated this function into its storage appliances in a way that provides ongoing tracking, analysis and protection, without also imposing significant cost or performance overhead. The company describes this as making the storage appliance "data aware." DataGravity offers three appliances with the following characteristics:

 

DGT1100

DGT2200

DGT2400

Raw disk capacity

18TB

48TB

96TB

Power supplies/fans

Dual redundant, hot swappable

Supported protocols

CIFS/SMB (V1.0, V2.0, V2.1), NFS (V3, V4), iSCSI

Active controllers

2

Network controllers

2x10Gb Ethernet Ports (copper and fiber options) 2x1Gb  Ethernet Ports

User interface

Supports modern HTML5-based browsers: including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple Safari

The company suggests that these appliances can assist companies with needs in the areas of search and discovery, data governance, data reliability and recovery and can be an enterprise's primary storage.

Sifting the Data
I sat through a whirlwind and yet in-depth demonstration of the analysis capabilities of DataGravity's products. I was impressed with how much could be learned about the data stored on the device without having to install a separate data analysis software package.

The product's analysis capabilities allow it to look inside an impressive list of file types, including Microsoft Office, Lotus Symphony, OpenOffice, Star Office, as well as a long list of text, multimedia, image and other important file formats. It also has the capability to search for credit card numbers, social security numbers and a few other types of personal identification.

The demonstration scenario was pretty simple on the face of it. The IT administrator has to routinely scan publically accessible directories to learn if proprietary or customer data has somehow found its way into the public area.

Once it was determined that there were several files that contained a contractor's personal information, the next step was to learn who put that data into the public directory and who was accessing it.  This would have been a long and painful process without an analysis package of some kind.

DataGravity's Engine found this information in a few moments, and made it possible to discover that the contractor list was being sent from one human resources staff member to another, but a single member of the IT department had downloaded the document and appeared to have shared it with someone outside of the company. This, of course, could get the company into deep trouble.

Dan's Take: Strong, Useful Analysis
I had no trouble thinking of several scenarios in which this capability would make life a great deal easier for an SMB that served a regulated market.

I've spoken with a number of storage appliance suppliers, and believe that DataGravity's hardware isn't unique. The analysis capability, on the other hand, is unusual. Typically, enterprises would have to seek out and install numerous products: one to provide data availability, another to provide security, and a third to provide data and usage analysis.

If your company faces the requirement of having to quickly learn who's using data, and when and where the use is occurring, I'd suggest seeing the demo for yourself.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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