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Data lifecycle management (DLM) services for SMBs

Data lifecycle management provides the tools you need to monitor the data flow in and out of a shop, so you can become part of your client's business conversations rather than just fix broken boxes.

"Quick and easy" and "data lifecycle management" are phrases you don't commonly find used together. But maturing new technologies and enhanced feature functionality are making it possible for VARs to bring new DLM products and services to their clients.

Kazeon's director of channel activities, Greg Philippe, finds some VARs starting to use Kazeon's Information Server IS1200 to frame up service opportunities for short and long-term DLM service engagements in the midmarket. In short-term engagements (three to five days), VARs deploy the Kazeon IS1200 to perform preliminary content-aware indexing and classification. Since no agents are required and the IS1200 is compatible with most corporate security infrastructures, VARs find the IS1200 can complete this initial assessment in a relatively pain-free manner.

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What makes Kazeon's IS1200 appealing to some VARs is they find that they can sometimes charge for both the short-term engagement and the ensuing longer term one should the client elect to pursue it. During the short-term engagement, data is gathered from the client site and reports prepared to demonstrate the scope of problems: how much sensitive data is contained within files on network file servers, how many redundant copies of data exist, etc.

From these reports, VARs can make recommendations to the client on what procedural and policy changes they must make to permanently fix the problems. These suggestions can lead to a possible product sale and a longer service engagement structured around the permanent implementation and configuration of products like the Kazeon IS1200 and building the specific DLM policy sets to support that customer's environment.

Other VARs like Ohio Valley Storage Consultants' president Gordon McKemie take a different approach. He finds his customers often aren't sure what they have, don't really know where to start and can't afford to pay to find out. However he also knows from his 20 years experience in the field as a storage engineer that most customer data follows the "80/20" rule -- only 20% of the data is actively used 80% of the time.

In these environments McKemie is having success selling Compellent's Storage Center that supports a mix of Fibre Channel and SATA disk drives with an automated tiered-storage feature. Unlike Kazeon's IS1200, which examines data at the file level, Compellent analyzes data at the block level storing metadata that contains frequency of access, RAID level, type and tier of disk drive, as well as creation, access and modification time for each block.

McKemie finds this architecture appeals to clients like the Whitehall City School District, which only has one network administrator to manage data for 3,000 students and 400 faculty members. Whitehall City School District purchased a Compellent Storage Center with 1 terabyte (TB) of FC disk, 2 TB of SATA disk and the optional automated tiered storage feature.

Whitehall City School District initially places student and faculty data on what they think is the most appropriate disk class. However, Compellent's tiered storage feature automatically monitors how frequently blocks of data are accessed and, after 12 days, begins to move data to a more appropriate storage tier. McKemie says, "Using a typical software host-based DLM product, this could take years to implement, if it ever got implemented at all."

However, some VARs have success using a software-based approach to DLM. Atec Group, based in Albany, N.Y., uses a combination of CommVault products to introduce DLM into customer accounts, initially leading with CommVault's backup software, Galaxy, and then adding CommVault's Data Migrator and Data Archiver products into the mix over time.

Atec Group's director of technical services, Sanford Cohn, finds a new trend emerging with DLM. As individual disk capacities grow and the price between FC and SATA disk drives no longer significant, Atec Group is starting to implement logical as opposed to physical tiers of storage in client accounts.

With logical tiers, the underlying disk drives remain the same but volumes are designated for storing only frequently accessed or only infrequently accessed data. Cohn finds that by using CommVault's Data Migrator for Files clients can move infrequently accessed data from the volumes tagged as "Frequent Access" to the ones labeled "Infrequently Accessed," and then only back up those "Infrequently Accessed" volumes once a week or month to reduce backup times.

The length of time to implement CommVault's DLM technology varies according to the complexity of the client site. For clients already using CommVault Galaxy Backup and Restore, introducing the CommVault Data Migrator for Files component is a smaller step, since both products use the same underlying catalog to store data. However, for clients changing out backup products to bring in CommVault, Cohn cautions, "It could take weeks or months to fully install and configure CommVault's DLM products in a customer account."

About the author:Jerome M. Wendt is the founder and lead analyst of The Datacenter Infrastructure Group, an independent analyst and consulting firm that helps users evaluate the different storage technologies on the market and make the right storage decision for their organization.


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