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See the light in dark data

Dark data, or big data that has not been sorted or used can still help companies, all it needs is to be brought to the front with analytics, sharing and the correct implementation process, writes BRYAN BALFE of Commvault.

Dark data is a relatively new term to the industry, defined by Gartner “as the information assets organisations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes (for example, analytics, business relationships and

direct monetising).” Almost all organisations have volumes of dark data stored away in dusty vaults and off-site storage facilities, historically unaccounted for, unmanaged, and undervalued.  However, modern day information sharing with analytics is bringing the reign of

dark data into the spotlight – mobility trends mean that users can create and share at will through a range of devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablets.

Many organisations are discovering that they lack both the policy and technology needed to efficiently manage data outside of the corporate data centre.  Additionally, the growth of data – and big data especially – is causing enterprise to finally look to address the issue of dark data, if only to curb mounting storage costs.

Stepping into the light

Tackling dark data can be intimidating – even to the most accomplished of Chief Information Officers (CIOs). Organisations have very little awareness of the location, volume, composition, ownership, risk, and business value of their unstructured data..  Based on the complexity associated with managing dark data, Gartner recommends that

“organisations should review the scope of their unstructured data problems by using File Analysis (FA) tools to understand where dark unstructured data resides and who has access to it.”  FA differs from traditional storage reporting tools because the technology doesn’t

just report on simple file attributes, but can also provide critical contextual information; with the ability to analyse, index, search, track, report on file mega data and even content.

Reducing the risk of the unknown

FA tools applied to dark data provide business value in a number of ways, one of which is by helping organisations reduce risk. By identifying which files reside where, and who has access to them, FA tools introduce an element of control. They can also help organisations make more informed decisions around prioritising their unstructured data management needs for classification and information governance, providing insights in setting retention policies for data movement. Many FA tools also offer reporting capabilities that help define these retention policies; according to Gartner, “The value of reports in FA tools is that they can be used to determine policy and strategy in areas such as access, retention and location.”

The real cost of keeping everything

IT administrators often struggle with having little to no insight into what data is being created; limited control over how it is being stored; and almost no understanding of its business value.  When it comes to information lifecycle governance, more often than not, organisations choose to lean on cold storage tape vaults to keep every scrap of data due to a paralysing fear that they may throw away something of value. Recent studies suggest that 69 percent of a

company’s stored data has absolutely no value to the organisation.  In essence this means that organisations could be spending up to 20 percent of their annual budget on storing data that has gone stale, with virtually no Return on Investment (ROI) . When it comes to getting to grips with the mammoth task of dark data, FA tools deliver enterprises with the information required to ‘clean up’ legacy and current data, by identifying which data can moved to lower cost storage, and others which can be deleted.

Defining the value of business data

The key to satisfying the need to hoard information, as well as those who might leverage it for the business, is to first identify what data has value for which part of the organisation, and for how long, so that it can be leveraged.   Once data has been evaluated and indexed properly, organisations can better determine how and where to store that data – whether it’s locally, in the cloud, or using a combination of solutions. The classification process, enabled by FA tools, can also support a well-defined data strategy and used to enforce information governance policies. Although, as Gartner highlights, less than 1 percent of organisations manage their unstructured data today, by 2018 that figure is expected to increase up to 25 percent . Budget implications will drive the need for data management policy and data classification. Automated classification will play an increasingly integral role in the implementation of data classification policies, which will ultimately lead to a more streamlined approach and cost savings.

* Bryan Balfe, Enterprise Account Manager at Commvault

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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