Today, March 16, 2015, Qumulo announced the world’s first data-aware scale-out NAS storage solution. Founded by three of the top intellectual property holders for Isilon’s core OneFS technology, Qumulo is a recent addition to the storage industry and another player to leverage the increasingly interesting, data–aware moniker. DataGravity, unveiled in August last year, is credited with coining the data-aware storage terminology. While Qumulo and DataGravity target different storage segments, both firms shed light on something a number of us in the storage industry seemed to have forgotten. Technology should help manage data, and not just storage.
What is data-aware storage?
In a world of exponential data growth coupled with rampant security and litigation concerns, just throwing all of your content in one huge bucket may not make sense anymore. Data-aware storage solutions offer inline, real-time analysis on the data content housed within their architectures. The goal is to provide not just insight, but actionable insight into content. The intent, or promise, is that the information can lead to better decision-making, improved processes, and ultimately superior business results. Administrators can instantly understand details of their content: who is accessing it, what is taking up the most capacity, and what is eating up the most performance. As an example, Qumulo offers insight into IOPS performance by file type, by user and by application, in real-time, automatically, without a performance impact or the need to deploy and manage separate software. DataGravity expands real-time insight to include not only the content stored within file systems but into the virtual machines as well. As each VM is stored, the hosted file system is analyzed and indexed, enabling the potential for search and analysis functions to include content inside VMs' hosted file systems as well as content on the storage system’s file system.
What does this mean for the future of storage?
As with most good ideas, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I doubt that this will be the last announcement we hear surrounding data-aware storage. While it is pretty easy to see some of the benefits data-aware storage can provide, what remains to be seen is how and in what manner organizations are able to adopt the new technology. It is one thing for the data-aware analysis to help optimize storage efficiency or catch gaps in data governance policies. These types of benefits may possibly pay for the storage, just by themselves. The real disruptive impact, however, will likely be seen if data-aware insight actually allows organizations to change/streamline their internal processes and procedures, such as those for governance and control. The technology definitely has the potential to be a game changer and it will be an exciting segment to watch over the coming years.