The Five Golden Rules of Data Virtualisation

Beyond infrastructure virtualisation

New Zealand is one of the most virtualised countries in the world with server and storage virtualisation saving millions of dollars each year. Now organisations can move beyond infrastructure to the data and application layers.

Data virtualisation provides the IT department with the ability to create unlimited virtual copies of data for multiple purposes from a single gold copy, eliminating the need to have multiple physical copies of data. IT can now to streamline a number of operations such as backup and recovery, test and development, business continuity and analytics.

Getting ahead of the data explosion

The traditional data management approach is fragmented resulting in multiple silos of duplicatedata. Across applications, there are multiple data services such as mirroring, cloning, replication, thin provisioning and snapshot technology as well as data efficiency services such as de-duplication and compression. 

Such data services drive huge numbers of redundant data copies that take up valuable and costly storage capacity. A different approach is required in order to solve the data copy explosion problem: using customary tools with the same processes will not do so.

A new approach to copy data management

It is now time for IT to focus on consolidating disparate storage services by developing a new approach to copy data management. This changed methodology provides data protection, test & development, analytics and business continuity through a single storage platform, from just the one golden copy of your production data. 

The key to stopping the data sprawl is by consolidating all of the data services that are managed in multiple data silos today. At present snaps, backup, replication and archiving, as well as compression and deduplication, are all done differently, with different technologies on different storage arrays.  

This is all very expensive: cutting down on data sprawl means so less capacity is required and, because IT is using much less capacity, there are also savings to be made on power, cooling and floor-space.

 IT can now deliver a common set of data services which reduces data management costs as well as cutting the costs of the multiple software licences required to support multiple storage arrays. The key is finding an application-centric and infrastructure-agnostic platform that includes all of the data service features that are normally purchased as separate software licences.

The five Golden Rules

This brings us to the five key rules that I would recommend IT follows when it comes to data virtualisation, which underpins the new copy data management practices.

The First Rule: Consolidate storage services by performing the copy, store, move and optimise functions for all applications using a common data management platform. That means less software to support, fewer licences to buy, fewer integration headaches and the elimination of operational complexity.

So, Golden Rule 1: Consolidate overlapping storage services.

The second rule is a very straightforward admonition: do not capture, store or move something again if you already have it. Golden Rule 2 therefore is: Do not store the same data twice.

Provide data efficiency services such as global de-duplication and compression of all your data copies is the Third Rule. These services will result in less data to move across your network, less data to store wherever you want it stored, greater efficacy of long-term retention and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).

In a nutshell, Golden Rule 3 is: Provide global deduplication and compression.

The Fourth Rule dictates designing a solution that’s application-centric enabling different SLAs for each application. Makes it economically feasible to have time slices of data for each application, enabling users to mount, clone, live clone or restore data from any point in time.

Golden Rule 4: Ensure application centricity.

The final and most important Rule is to make the solution simple to deploy, manage and integrate into the infrastructure to lower operational costs, improve SLAs such as RPO and RTO and solve the data management challenges caused by redundant copies of data.

Golden Rule 5: Make it simple to deploy, integrate and manage.

When Spectrum looked into the market to find a platform with all of the data service features that are normally purchased as separate licences, we discovered Actifio.  We have found a vendor with a radically simple new approach to copy data management. (And my thanks to Actifio for many of the ideas set out above.)