A New Era in Copy Data Management Posted on Feb 10th, 2015 by The Storage Alchemist

Categories: Copy Data Management, ECX

It was a big day at Catalogic Software as we just announced the worldwide general availability of ECX 2.0, our software only intelligent copy management platform. We publicly introduced ECX 2.0 during our beta program, which coincided with NetApp’s Insight conferences in both Las Vegas and Berlin late last year. This gave us the opportunity to demonstrate ECX to over 1,000 people between the two conferences. 

Customer adoption of ECX since then has grown rapidly, and we already have dozens of deployments around the globe. As we’ve engaged directly with end users, we’ve been able to recognize some points that resonate most and we’ve since modified the way we describe our value prop from Visibility, Insight and Control to Manage, Orchestrate and Analyze. The reality is, visibility and insight are important pre-requisites, but the ability to manage and orchestrate is what IT needs to get ahead of the data growth challenges, and deliver superior services to their customers. Manageability and orchestration are at the heart of the ECX technology.

Manage & Orchestrate

In presenting the new message to prospects and partners, I am often asked the question, “What is the difference between ‘manage’ and ‘orchestrate’”? It’s a good question and here is how Catalogic Software defines it. There are a number of tools that say they can help you ‘manage’ your data. These tools mostly provide the ability to control basic storage services that you want to apply to your data.  They let you turn on and off features such as storage efficiency options. That is fine, but what storage admins need today is the ability to manage their data throughout its lifecycle.  Sure, we have been talking about ‘data lifecycle management’ for a while now, but it is time to get control of it. When you don’t control it, you end up with many copies of it and that is the main culprit of this geometric data growth we are experiencing. This is where ECX really shines- the ability to truly manage your copy data throughout its lifecycle. Through the interface, ECX lets you manage the full lifecycle of all the snaps you create in your environment, including Snapshots, SnapMirrors and SnapVaults. ECX enables IT to set up both simple and complex Snapshot, SnapVault, and SnapMirror polices that can branch and cascade in any way you can imagine. Typically, IT tries to automate these processes with scripts.  However, scripts, by nature, are very ‘brittle’. The person who created them may know what is going on, but when they break, that person is never around and, in fact, may have left the company. Now these ‘helpful’ scripts have become a troubleshooting nightmare. Once the ECX snap policies are configured, they can be set up to run on a scheduled basis or run ad hoc, and every evening a report is generated and emailed to let you know the success or failure of each snap policy.

Why is this important?

ECX exception reporting allows IT to ensure the snap polices they have created are being properly executed, and, more importantly, where any issue may exist. These reports help IT to diagnose issues with snaps quickly and easily. Additionally, these snaps are used for a myriad of business operations such as data protection, DR, test/dev, and analytics. If the consumer of this data cannot access it when it is needed, the consequences can be devastating. ECX gives IT the peace of mind that their environment is running properly. You cannot get this level of insight into your copy data lifecycle with any other tool or set of tools.

Orchestration is all about leveraging the snaps you have created and at the heart of copy data management. This is very important. Many times, snaps are created with a good reason in mind, but without a catalog or a process to utilize these snaps, what typically happens is the snap is created, quickly forgotten, and then just sits around taking up valuable storage space. Automation and orchestration allow you to utilize the snaps you just created. The bonus is, you can take advantage of these snaps for many use cases, meaning you don’t need multiple snaps for multiple purposes. If you want to use the last snap of the day for both Test/Dev and analytic environments, you can. This is true copy data management- getting the most out of fewer copies of data. At Catalogic, we believe you want or need a copy of your data for many business operations; you just don’t need a hundred copies. To orchestrate your copy data, you simply select a copy you want to use and then select the location where you want to use it. It is that simple. This workflow can be set to run automatically, every day. A good example is Test/Dev. If you want your development organization working with the most recent version of production data, ECX lets you orchestrate a policy that takes the latest nightly snap and mounts it for development so they are ready to use it first thing every morning. This helps a Test/Dev environment evolve into more of a DevOps environment; the direction Development organizations want to go. It also makes the code they are building much more accurate because they are building and testing against the latest and greatest data set.

The features introduced in previous versions of Catalogic ECX are still available. ECX provides the most robust catalog of all your NetApp and VMware data on the market.  The insight it provides is second to none, and helps IT to better understand their environment. That said, if IT really wants to get control, they should take advantage of Catalogic ECX 2.0 to drive more thoughtful data copies or snap policies, and then be able to utilize these copies for many business operations.  In turn this:

  • Reduces storage management costs – one interface for all snap policy creation
  • Reduces storage overhead – fewer wasted copies of data ‘lying around’
  • Reduces troubleshooting costs thru exception-based reporting
  • Drives higher storage utilization
  • Ensures higher accuracy in test/dev and analytic environments

Click here for demo videos to learn more about the power of copy data management.