Table of contents
- …and what makes it so revolutionary?
- Introduction the problem
- It’s Not About the Storage, It’s About the Data
- StrongLink functionalities
- The StrongLink machine learning policy engine
- How StrongLink solves the unstructured Data problems
- StrongLinks unmatched financial value
- StrongLink the knowledge
- Contact and further information
…and what makes it so revolutionary?
This paper shows how StrongLink can revolutionise data and storage management across any file system, any workflow, anywhere.
Introduction the problem
The dramatic increase of unstructured data has created huge challenges for IT organizations who are struggling with several unwieldy and highly problematic issues both with managing the data itself, but also with how to manage data across the many storage choices that are available to satisfy different use cases and price/performance requirements.
The first problem is finding a way to deal cost effectively with the massive sea of unstructured data that typically accounts for 80% of all the organization’s data. This is compounded by a growth rate of 62% per annum that doubles the amount of unstructured data every 18 months. Managing all that unstructured data is difficult all by itself. Even if all that unstructured data exists in a single storage system it would be a monumental effort to get one’s arms around it. But that challenge is made near impossible by the fact the unstructured data is rarely in a single storage location. It’s typically spread over multiple storage silos, hyper-converged systems, file servers, and hypervisor clusters, onsite, offsite, in different geographic locations, as well as in the cloud. The problem is that these silos are typically incompatible with each other, making management across them a manual operation fraught with complexity.
Keep in mind that while most of the unstructured data has value, some of that data is more valuable than others, and the value is dynamic, typically declining over time. This “time value” makes the data management problem exponentially worse. Data is most valuable when it is first created. That value begins to decline after 72 hours. Depending on the industry, it rapidly declines after 30 days, falls off a cliff after 90 days, and once in a blue moon gets hot again. And yet to keep the data – including cool and cold data — online and available to users, traditional storage- centric methods means leaving it on a costly primary storage tier for its entire life-cycle, often even remaining on primary storage across a tech refresh.
Gartner and IDC estimate that as much as 75% to 90% of all data in the data center is cool to cold, even though it may be sitting on expensive storage tiers. But moving that data down the storage food chain as its time value declines – to lower cost, lower performing storage, or to cloud storage that more closely matches the current value – tends to be manually labor intensive, time consuming, and costly. Or it uses some variant of hierarchical storage management (HSM) with stub-based data movement that’s brittle, subject to corruption, and can orphan files or objects. The deal breaker is that optimizing storage can create interruption and the need to retrain users and/or reconfigure applications. For this reason alone idle data often remains on expensive storage.
Searching all of the unstructured data or analyzing it for actionable insights as it sits across many different storage silos is a tedious exercise in frustration. It’s doable with enough time and excessive manual effort, doing the searches and/or analytics on each storage system separately and then manually collating the results each and every time. Or manually migrating all of the data to a system that can provide a global namespace with search and analytics. Both are onerous and become unsustainable as the amount of unstructured data escalates exponentially. Welcome to the IT high anxiety nightmare. This is the main problem SBDS set out to solve with StrongLink.
Welcome to the IT high anxiety nightmare. This is the main problem SBDS set out to solve with StrongLink.
It’s Not About the Storage, It’s About the Data
StrongLink is the first cognitive data management system purpose-built to address these overlapping problems of data management and storage resource management. It is data- and metadata-centric strategy that looks at the whole problem, as opposed to the typical storage-centric approaches that focus on a set of infrastructure choices alone.
A cognitive approach is always about the data and metadata; however, storage vendors tend to conflate the data and metadata management with the storage, arguing that a better storage bucket is the key to solving data problems. Many promise a splendid solution to the data management problems by merely moving all of the unstructured data onto their new storage system. Some of these include a global namespace, search, analytics, even cloud storage tiering – but only if the data is consolidated into a new platform. Others promise a cloud gateway or what is euphemistically called cloud integrated storage. But in most cases, these vendors require the current unstructured data to be migrated to a new storage or gateway system, or risk creating a new silo. All future data not originating on that new storage must also go through the migration process copied/moved to the new storage and deleted from the origination storage. This is a non-trivial task. It’s time consuming, labor intensive, and quite costly.
StrongLink’s data- and metadata- centric approach eliminates this problem, presenting all data across any file system in a global namespace. Users and applications have persistent access to their data regardless of which storage silo it may live in today. This makes it extremely simple for users to search for their data in a single operation across all storage systems and types. It also simplifies and shortens batch analytics. The machine learning capabilities within StrongLink’s policy engine reduces the amount of data that has to be analyzed. Users can also add their own metadata to files and objects, which can drive project-based workflow automation, for example, and which can assist in projects such as the EU’s GDPR (general data protection regulations) rules coming online in 2018. StrongLink additionally provides data and metadata versioning, robust data protection including file and file system point-in-time rollbacks that can eliminate the need for backups, and data provenance capabilities with full immutable audit trails.
However, one of StrongLink’s greatest advantages comes from empowering IT administrators to seamlessly optimize their storage infrastructure – both now, and in the future – across multiple storage systems, from multiple vendors, and all without impacting user access.
With StrongLink, data may be automatically migrated (with no interruption to users) from the file or object storage where it originated to another storage platform of choice based on lifecycle policy, use cases, performance requirements, data protection requirements, geographic requirements, or compliance requirements. That storage can be any file, object, tape, or optical storage with multiple protocols, from any vendor. And no matter where the data is moved, StrongLink does not change how users or applications access their data. To users the data is simply online, all the time, regardless of which storage platform it may be stored on today. No need to change mount points, or redirect applications after data migration.
The StrongLink machine learning policy engine is the first of its kind to make this possible.
It combines both data and storage resource management into a unified platform that bridges multi-vendor and multi-system, eliminating vendor lock-in. IT administrators no longer have to make a one-size-fits-all storage choice for all their data. StrongLink gives them the freedom to pick whichever storage is right for the use case or budget, without impacting user access or adding complexity to IT management.
The implications of this capability are profound. With StrongLink, unstructured data can be automatically archived based on policies such as access frequency and age, but is nevertheless always online and accessible to users. But there are circumstances where archiving can and should take place sooner. Take the example of IoT (Internet of things) data. Much of that data is status data, which is important momentarily but which is likely to never be viewed again except in a historical or trend analysis. The StrongLink data engine recognizes patterns and trends that can enable it to suggest placement/migration policies of such data based on the historical access patterns and business rules. These capabilities are part of the StrongLink software. No additional archiving software licensing is required.
Another example is the vast number of media and entertainment files generated in a production workflow, which are typically stored on different storage types in different locations. Workflow collaboration is a must for all projects, and there is constant manual movement of files between users and locations. By enabling a virtualized global namespace that bridges different storage types and locations, StrongLink enables IT organizations to keep up with the needs of their users while also being efficient with their storage. The StrongLink policy engine can leverage user-created metadata to automate actions across different locations and data silos. By rising above the storage infrastructure to focus on the data itself, StrongLink’s machine learning tools recognize metadata patterns to suggest automated data placement, consolidation, minimization of file movement, and aggregation of diverse project files onto the same storage and/or archive.
Data protection is another example of the value of the StrongLink policy engine. In addition to point-in-time versioning and full audit trails, StrongLink includes file-copy management policies to replicate one or multiple data copies for DR, or remote collaboration. StrongLink policies are metadata driven, and can adjust the replication events for efficiency, data durability, data type, access performance, RTO (recovery time objective – how fast the data has to be recovered up and running) or RPO (recovery point objective – amount of data that can be lost) based on learned patterns. Note that no additional data protection or backup software licensing is required.
Perhaps the best example of why StrongLink is so revolutionary comes from the horribly burdensome IT task of migrating data from old storage to new during a tech refresh. Data migrations are a massive time sink and a manual labor-intensive and exasperating exercise that impacts IT staff as well as user access to the data. StrongLink fundamentally eradicates the burden of this task by making data migrations completely automated and transparent to users. Upgrading storage infrastructure, changing systems, changing vendors, moving to the cloud or other choices are completely seamless and transparent. There is no server remediation, no remounting of file shares or object stores, no re-pathing, no resetting permissions, no re-authorizing, no re-inputting ACLs, and no user torment. There is instead continuous user access to their files or objects before, during, and after the tech refresh data migration.
How StrongLink solves the unstructured Data problems
StrongLink virtualizes and abstracts the global namespace from across multiple file and object storage systems, vendors, and cloud storage service providers. Since files and objects will likely be moved multiple times in their lifecycle this virtual global namespace automates and minimizes that movement transparently to users and applications. There is no longer a requirement for users to worry where the data is actually stored because StrongLink maps to the file and object location similar to what DNS (domain name server) does when directing web names into TCP/IP addresses. Users simply see their files at the mount points they expect, regardless of which storage device the data may be stored on at the moment.
By operating out-of-band, in-band, or a combination of both, StrongLink is able to provide the best of both worlds. Out-of band makes sense for those applications that demand the highest performance and cannot tolerate a few additional milliseconds of latency. In-band makes more sense for guaranteeing data provenance, instant replication, real-time analytics, zero RPO data protection and reduced network bandwidth utilization. Providing both means not having to sacrifice one for the other.
StrongLink leverages a-peer-to-peer no-master grid architecture based on open standards that delivers nearly unlimited scalability. A single physical or virtual node is called a star. Multiple nodes are joined together as a constellation. Multiple constellations on-site and at multiple sites are interconnected into a galaxy. All nodes in the galaxy are equal partners to the virtual global namespace. As long as there is a minimum of two nodes, there is never a single point of failure.
StrongLinks unmatched financial value
There is much to like about StrongLink. It solves many urgent unstructured data problems. The financial value that comes from solving those problems is substantial. Remember much of that 75 to 90% of all unstructured cool and cold data is consuming expensive primary storage. By automatically moving that data off of primary storage to secondary, tertiary, cloud,tape, object, or optical storage, there are huge cost savings. The cost differential between these storage types ranges from 80 to 98%. That adds up fast, reducing storage costs from 60 to 88%. The savings don’t stop there. There are also extensive savings in storage maintenance costs – typically tied to MSRP – and storage infrastructure costs such as rack space, networks, management, IT personnel, as well as future tech refresh costs.
Then there are the savings that come from eliminating archival software licensing, cloud gateway costs, backup or data protection licensing, and storage system data export cloud taxes – license fees that charge per terabyte to export unstructured data to public cloud storage. And there’s the savings from a reduction in personnel support costs that comes from StrongLink’s automation capabilities.
StrongLink also saves significantly on licensing. StrongBox Data Solutions does not believe in capacity licensing or the per terabyte tax that is so prevalent today in the data management and storage industries. StrongLink licenses on the CPU cores it uses, the number of constellations, and galaxies. StrongLink is typically less than 1/4th the cost of competitive software.
StrongLink solves the unwieldy and highly problematic unstructured data management and storage issues confronting IT organizations. And it does so while paying for itself promptly with incomparable savings.
StrongLink the knowledge
StrongLink is calculated as a subscription fee per year based on cores.
Contact and further information
Here you can find more information about StrongLink. Use our „StrongLink request“ form to request more information from us. We are very happy to answer your questions.