Taming the Unstructured Data Beast

If I told you data growth was out of control, you wouldn’t be impressed. We’re all out there creating our own news, updating our Facebook pages with incredibly important information, recording video for entertainment and making lasting social connections to our hearts’ content. YouTube recently blogged that users upload more than 24 hours worth of video per minute and video streaming sites like Ustream, Livestream and Justin.tv say they exceed that impressive number However, it might alarm you we will create about 1,800 Exabytes (EB) of data by 2011 (roughly 10 times bigger than what we did in 2006). Our partner EMC’s even has an Information Growth Ticker, so you can see just how insane this problem is at a moment’s notice.

Even though this data growth began to outpace the storage needed to contain it back in 2007, storage budgets are on the rise trying to keep up. The problem isn’t going away. It will only get more intense. Where do you start? Keep in mind that 95% of that 1,800 EB is considered unstructured data, and it’s becoming more important to wrangle this beast that can’t be stored in rows and columns to make storage as efficient as possible. Better yet, how do you put this kind of unorganized information to work for you instead of against you, to make you more successful without so much burden?

As part of a larger announcement today on Solutions for the Virtual Era, Dell discussed how organizations like yours can not only keep up with unstructured data growth but to make a business asset out of it. Dell’s initiative around intelligent data management combines our mantra of open, capable and affordable with new levels of access, availability and protection of your data. Here are some of the benefits:

  • You’ll see reduced complexity with the automated, rules-based data movement and retention capabilities.
  • You’ll get better control over your storage capital and make more confident decisions about when and how much to buy.
  • You’ll get a clearer picture of your data to appropriately align its business value with the right storage cost.

You’re already thinking “yeah, we hear lots of strategies and visions, but how does that work in the ‘real world’?

There are now three big ways you can start realizing it: object storage, backup with deduplication and unified storage.

Object: this addresses that needle-in-a-haystack problem, where you’ve searched for a document hoping you can remember which folder in the Microsoft file tree you saved it in – imagine trying to find it 10 years from now or if you are dealing with millions of folders. Dell will deliver the DX Object Storage Solution to access, store and distribute billions of objects like files, videos, images and other digital content. It uses metadata to enable you to find and quickly retrieve information and automate the management of that growing data, from creation through deletion, all based on policies you set. Perhaps the most impressive is the DX’s scalability. It can grow in flexible increments up to Petabytes of data without the complexity of things like LUNs or RAID groups. Since it’s based on a peer-scaling architecture and standard x86 hardware, access, throughput and capacity can easily be added and nodes upgraded or retired, all non-disruptively.

We’re also integrating independent software vendors (ISV) for targeted solutions. There’s a full list of those in our press release, if you’d like to take a peek. You will see a phased roll out this year with a start in healthcare, file and email archiving, eDiscovery and content management. DX will be widely available in May 2010.

Backup with Dedupe: this year’s famous buzz word (outside of ‘cloud’ maybe) is dedupe. Dell’s philosophy has always been that dedupe should be a feature incorporated into different types of storage products to drive efficiencies everywhere. We are proud to highlight our Dell|EMC relationship with the addition of the Data Domain products to this philosophy. These products use integrated, in-line deduplication to protect data while reclaiming valuable storage capacity.

Also, we’ve enhanced the PowerVault DL2100 disk backup solution to include Symantec Backup Exec 2010. This system includes source deduplication that can reduce backup costs by 50% compared to tape. Plus, it plays well with other Dell|EMC and EqualLogic arrays.

Unified Storage: we can’t talk about efficiency and not include unified storage. Dell now brings in the NS (Celerra) series from EMC to give customers the best of all worlds: consolidation, deduplication, storage across multiple data types, built-in tiering, various storage protocols, etc … Stop using multiple systems where you don’t have to and save the costs over the long term. It’s everything you’ve known and loved about unified storage with a 5 9’s boost on availability. The NS-120 and NS-480 will be available in April, and the NS-960 later this summer.

The storage team will be back over the coming weeks with more details on this. For now, we’re heads down, continuing to make it come true. Let us know what you think or if you have any questions.

About the Author: Jennifer G