The Fight Against Data Fragmentation

Image credit: iStockphoto/Francesco Scatena

Data management is a headache that will never go away. And, now, it is not just an IT problem anymore.

Resilience, security, privacy, agility, and competitiveness are tied to how well a company manages its data. With data volumes reaching meteoric proportions, many have chosen to use the cloud as their data platform. While it solves the scalability challenges, it increases complexity. And it does not mean your data management woes have disappeared.

Cohesity is taking a different route. It recently inked a strategic collaboration with AWS for what it calls Data Management as a Service (DMaaS). It will use AWS as the preferred cloud provider, with Cohesity managing the offering via its Cohesity Helios platform.

As part of the DMaaS push, Cohesity announced Cohesity DataProtect, which makes backup available as a service or BaaS. The company is also adding on-premises BaaS, DRaaS, Files-as-a-Service, and Test Data Management-as-a-Service.  

It is a reimagining of the data management world that begins with backup.

Illuminating dark data

Marcus Loh, field chief technology officer for the Asia Pacific and Japan at Cohesity, noted that the DMaaS push recognizes that companies need to manage data fragmentation better.

“Most large organizations don’t pay a lot of attention to data management or backup. They’re more interested in driving and launching the application as quickly as possible. As a result, we have all these data silos and fragmentation. So, if you look at the backyard of any data center today, it’s just very complicated,” said Loh.

Cohesity is betting that the drive toward digital transformation and the realization of the importance of data will see companies want to simplify their data “backyard.”

Part of the challenge lies in understanding where each byte goes. “The data is dark. Companies have no clue what’s in there, or if it is redundant, obsolete, or trivial,” said Loh.

Cohesity DMaaS attempts to shed light on this dark and fragmented data. “With that visibility and clarity, you can perform Information Lifecycle Management,” Loh added.

An additional complexity is the use of multiple clouds. Whether it is for redundancy, data sovereignty, or managing the various privacy and compliance regimes, multicloud is here to stay. “Which means the problem becomes multiplied,” said Loh.  

Rising sophistication in ransomware is another concern. Threat actors have figured out that corrupting the backup data improves their chances for a ransom payout as the company has nothing to fall back on.

However, most companies do not have a comprehensive view of any backup corruption. Hence, the call for simplified data management.

Backup and filesystem roots

Cohesity’s real strength lies in its SpanFS distributed file system. “It took us three and a half years to design and develop it,” said Loh. He noted that a lot of the innovation that went into the product is now used in DMaaS.

A file system point of view allows Cohesity to make features like “global deduplication and global compression” part of the offering. It reduces the threat surface as there are less duplicated data in the cloud unattended while allowing the CISO to strengthen potential attack points. SpanFS immutability offers an added level of security.

Such a viewpoint allows CDOs and CISOs to work more efficiently in blocking data leakage or data theft. “In a fragmented world, you don’t know where to secure,” said Loh.

Two worlds colliding

The move toward DMaaS also coincides with the coming together of the two worlds of data management and storage management. Backups, where Cohesity built its customer base, was part of storage management. Chief data officers saw data management differently.

With companies looking to become data-driven, the data and storage management worlds are colliding. Loh, who saw consolidation already occurring across the industry, said that companies are navigating the initial confusion between data and storage.

Cohesity DMaaS offering aims to clear the confusion. It allows data managers to manage the entire lifecycle without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. 

This approach will be vital as companies scale up their AI projects that ingest a lot of backup data for machine learning. “A lot of companies are not set up for AI to use the backup to learn,” said Loh.

He added that an additional area that is seeing change is compliance and security. As companies store more of their data in the public cloud, compliance becomes a huge concern and a CDO concern.  

Not a panacea for data management

While DMaaS offers many benefits, Loh admitted that it is not going to solve endemic data management problems. He pointed to data classification as one area where companies need to start focusing on as they rely on their data more.

I would still urge your readers to do something new. From my point of view, when I’m talking about data management, I’m talking about redefining the space,” said Loh.

He believed that the companies would need to start with their data management journey at the foundation level. “Then you look at a framework to manage your data from the cradle to the grave,” said Loh.

Once you have the framework, you will need a partner with the right offering. It is where Cohesity is now betting to make a difference.

Image credit: iStockphoto/Francesco Scatena