Imation Takes a Bite Out of Big Data’s Big Costs; Interview with Imation Global Marketing Director Bill Schilling Part III

Everyone talks about how Big Data is changing how data and storage is managed but what many forget is that Big Data also comes with “Big Costs” in terms of the hardware needed to store it and the software and people needed to manage it. Imation saw these three costs coming down the pike and now provides SMBs and SMEs a very affordable and practical solution to address all of these concerns. In this third and final part of my interview series with Imation’s Global Marketing Director Bill Schilling we discuss the cost of data and how the features of Imation InfiniVault mitigate those costs by enabling SMBs and SMEs to more effectively manage their growing data stores.

  Imation has been talking more about the “cost of data” and has developed some metrics to back up its claims. Can you share how you arrived at “data’s real cost?”

Bill:  Leveraging some market data in the 2010-2011 timeframe, Imation considered the cost of a legacy storage array to include both the direct costs of storing files on the array as well as the cost associated with replicating, deduplicating, making tape copies, and storing copies off site.

We were able to present an analysis of the costs associated with doing that and then compared those costs to the cost of retrieving, retaining and recovering the same data with the same storage capacity on the InfiniVault.  As we are now able to share, the savings are significant.

Now we have recently equipped the sales team and our channel partners with some new tools that enable them to do a total cost of storage or data lifecycle assessment to get an idea of whether these savings are possible within the customers’ environments to which they are talking.  We hope to have a web-based version of it to expand our ability to get the message out.

Jerome:  One of the tougher parts in terms of lowering data’s cost is having access to archiving software that works in such a way that it puts data on the right tier of storage without negatively impacting the performance of production applications. How does Imation InfiniVault balance the varying performance and capacity demands of data while simultaneous bringing the overall cost of storage management down?

  As a storage technology geek it’s really quite exciting to see what InfiniVault is able to do in this area. Among other things, we can track data usage, how frequently or infrequently data is being accessed.

The system and the users are in a position to migrate infrequently accessed files to removable RDX drives and cartridges. We can keep those drives and cartridges in a near line state. In the event that the file is required we can provide instant access to that file.

As we are able to migrate infrequently accessed files off online storage, we free up that faster, higher performing storage for new files that are created or ingested that might be more frequently accessed. The beauty is that over time, as files are stored on the near line RDX drive cartridges, those cartridges and files can be pulled from the system and stored offline or offsite, thereby freeing up another slot within the InfiniVault appliance to add a new RDX cartridge.

The InfiniVault VaultCenter software tracks the whereabouts of these removed cartridges and files at all times. So in the event of an e-discovery request associated with some sort of litigation action it is able to provide a command to return the cartridge back into the InfiniVault system. We think about InfiniVault (it is shorthand for infinite vault) and it is this RDX removability that creates this quasi-scalability for the appliance.

Jerome: The Imation InfiniVault cuts across a number of traditional barriers in terms of what storage arrays typically offer? What was the genesis behind that idea?

Bill:  The big ‘aha‘ moment for those that originated the InfiniVault platform and now for us at Imation, is the idea that it is significantly different than a traditional storage array in that we are using online 7200 RPM SATA drives for instantaneous access and fast retrieval. But we are also using near line removable RDX drives for near instant access.

We can move those cartridges offline or offsite for protection and fast recovery and even eventually a gateway to the cloud. We are not yet there with InfiniVault, at least across the board. There are one or two applications where we have gateway capability to move files to a remote cloud.

The other interesting thing about InfiniVault is this notion of being able to create four copies of the same file and distribute it across these different tiers. This speaks to what I mentioned earlier that you do not need to back up the InfiniVault appliance unlike a traditional storage array.  I may have mentioned this earlier but given the extreme data growth coupled with the compliance driven environment, InfiniVault has this flexibility to create different types of pools or vaults using different policies in different settings.

Along those lines, we look to test and certify InfiniVault for use in different content management applications. Even today it is optimized for requirements on HIPAA policies related to storing medical images and records.

You are not going to get that out the box with a traditional storage array unless you purchase add-ons. But the one thing too that I’ll add is that when customers purchase InfiniVault as an appliance, both hardware and software, there are no software license fees and maintenance agreements can be renewed in one, three and five year increments.

Jerome:  Can you elaborate on how you see a typical Imation customer deploying InfiniVault?

Bill:  We have seen widespread use of Infinivault across the different vertical markets, whether it be healthcare, medical images, medical records, construction, and architectural firms that are managing large scale drawings and designs.

We talked about its use in municipalities and in other legal law firms as an example. We believe that the VaultCenter management software is a unique enabler for the Infinivault appliance. However at the core of InfiniVault is the RDX technology, this 2.5 inch removable hard drive technology that combines the best of tape and the best of disk.

Today we deliver up to a terabyte in each of these ruggedized removable cartridges with 1.5 TB around the corner. Couple this with the automated spin down of the RDX 2.5 inch media, when files are not being accessed or the drive is not being used, there is significant power savings that the InfiniVault can deliver versus competitive appliances or arrays that have drives that are spinning all the time.

The other interesting angle that we hear our customers talk about is that RDX cartridges within an InfiniVault can be encrypted, compressed, deduped, protected, digitally shred, and, of course, you can remove it and have it physically destroyed. So the InfiniVault is a great example of an Active Archive, multi-tiered active archive storage solution that maximizes the full benefits of the RDX technology and the RDX removable hard disk drive.

Jerome:  One final question for you. Can you share with DCIG’s readership a little bit about what we might expect next from Imation?

  We think that there’s growth opportunity available for Imation in both archive and backup markets. We plan to make additional investments in organic activities, R&D and whatnot, as well as inorganic opportunities.

We are rapidly expanding our channel within our global footprint and adding more VAR partners globally. So we are excited about the global scale that we have already as a co
mpany to help active the growt
h for our storage business.

One thing we are looking at is a remote office, branch office storage solution, maybe launching that toward the end of this year, as a way for enterprises to effectively manage backup and protection of data that is out among various remote offices.

In Part I
of this interview series, we discuss Imation’s evolution over the past
12 – 18 months and how it has positioned itself to be the “Bigger Data”
storage solutions provider for small and midsized businesses and

In Part II
of this interview series, we discuss how the Imation InfiniVault opens
the door for more SMBs and SMEs to take on the task of data archiving
while simultaneously enabling them to take out backups.


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