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NetApp and Symantec – Managing Structured and Unstructured Data in Virtual Environments

The ramifications of organizations not getting data under control are significant. Recent analyst studies find that structured data stores may grow by as much as 60% annually and unstructured data stores by as much as 80% annually. Aggravating this situation, once all of this data is consolidated, the hardware costs associated with scaling the storage infrastructure to accommodate this data growth may be a factor of up to 10x of what it costs prior to consolidation.
Tracking and managing data that is stored in the data center creates its own set of challenges to include establishing what data exists, who owns it and how it is being used. To address this concern, NetApp and Symantec have partnered to keep data growth under control so IT organizations do not become exposed to the unforeseen costs and risks it can present later on.

As organizations virtualize applications and consolidate data on file servers, problems start to appear at the application layer as well. In the same way that virtualization makes managing the physical infrastructure more difficult, it also contributes to masking what data exists, where it resides, who owns it and how it is being used.

This is where using the combination of NetApp’s and Symantec’s technologies come into play when implementing virtualization. NetApp storage systems address many of the initial concerns that enterprises will likely have about data growth as they both deduplicate data and thinly provision available storage capacity.

Safely satisfying either one of these requests requires the use of software that maps the virtual layer to the physical components of the environment. In this way enterprises can break through the layers of abstraction to better understand both how their physical IT infrastructure is being used and may be better utilized going forward.

Using deduplication and compression, NetApp storage systems minimize the data growth in virtual environments by only storing like chunks of data once and then compressing them to save storage capacity. Then to further conserve storage capacity, NetApp storage systems use thin provisioning to only allocate storage capacity to a particular volume when data actually exists and is stored.

These technologies combine to provide an initial and important step in controlling data growth.
Symantec’s Data Insight complements these two NetApp storage system features by then examining and analyzing the data from an application-centric and user-centric context.

Rather than just looking at the data from a “bits and bytes” context such as deduplication and thin provisioning do, Data Insight looks at the usage context of the data itself to establish who is accessing it, who owns it and how it is being used. These data usage analytics that Data Insight provides are key to organizations achieving their data governance objectives of protecting confidential data, ensuring compliance and reducing the cost of managing and storing this data.

While Data Insight has a number of inherent features to accomplish these objectives regardless of which file system it is examining, it achieves these tasks more quickly and easily on NetApp storage by leveraging NetApp’s Data ONTAP interface to efficiently monitor and scan the NetApp file system by communicating directly with Data ONTAP.

The two-fold benefits that enterprises then realize using NetApp and Symantec are these:

  • First, enterprises get control of and minimize storage growth. The deduplication and thin provisioning features found on NetApp storage systems provide an important and necessary first step for enterprises to take to keep data growth and its ensuing storage costs under control. Leveraging these two features, enterprises may allow users to freely store data with the knowledge that data is being compressed and deduplicated as it is stored and storage capacity only allocated when it is actually needed.
  • Second, enterprises improve data governance by mitigating risk, ensuring compliance and controlling data management costs. Once data is stored, knowing who owns it and how it is being accessed over its life becomes critical to understand and document to prevent potentially costly data breaches, to meet audit requirements as well as to understand and cleanup orphan data. Using Symantec’s Data Insight, enterprises stay out in front of these data management issues as it continually monitors and reports on data access and usage patterns.

Enterprises are adopting virtualization and private clouds for good reasons. However, without having some mechanisms in place to manage both the underlying physical infrastructure and the data will set enterprises up for new and unexpected costs later on.

This is why NetApp and Symantec have come together to jointly offer a solution that enterprises may use to keep their data manageable and under control. NetApp provides the agile storage infrastructure that enterprises need to control and manage its growth while Symantec Data Insight provides the software analytics to improve data governance, ensure compliance and integrity as well as reduce data management costs.


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