Catalogic Software Talks Copy Data Management, Hybrid Cloud, Oracle and More

Grazed from VMblog.com. Author: David Marshall

Catalogic Software recently announced a new software release that provides: dramatically easier management and use of Oracle database copies, the market's only Copy Data Management (CDM) support for the EMC Unity storage family, and Integration with AWS S3 for cloud-based data retention. These are just a few of the many exciting new features in the latest release of Catalogic ECX 2.4.  To find out more, I spoke with Catalogic Software's VP of Marketing, Tom Grave.

VMblog:  What are the advantages of "in-place" Copy Data Management (CDM) approach?

Tom Grave:  In-place CDM means doing the work of copy data management on your existing storage environment.  The alternative approach is to take a copy of your data and move it to a new storage stack, which makes it more like a backup software solution. That's not really changing the way things work in the datacenter. We've taken the approach where it's better not to introduce another independent hardware layer. In fact, when EMC recently announced their own copy data solution, they took the same approach and for the same reasons. Users have spent a lot of IT budget dollars on storage and storage copy features (snapshots and replication). In-place CDM lets them get the most value out of what they already have. Speaking of EMC, we've added copy data management support for the new EMC Unity storage family with this release. We're the first vendor to support Unity...even EMC hasn't supported it yet. 

VMblog:  Tell us the Oracle and SQL integration capabilities in ECX 2.4.

Grave:  ECX has added true database awareness with this release. It's more than just stopping and starting the database to take a snapshot, of course we do that too, and we do it without the mess of installing database agents. It's managing logs to get point-in-time recovery; it's allowing for data masking to make data useable while conforming to compliance requirements; it's leveraging popular database tools like Oracle RMAN so DBAs can keep doing things the way they are used to but with better and faster results. Databases are the lifeblood of most organizations, so it is a logical progression for us to start doing more database specific things and making it simpler and efficient for database administrators. While a lot of what we do is focused on the data center, we also offer a lot of value to a DBA who is looking for better and smarter ways to address his/her database copy challenges.

VMblog:  What is database sprawl issue and how does ECX 2.4 address it with the Oracle integration?

Grave:  Let's look at an example. IDC recently reported that 77 percent of organizations have more than 200 Oracle or SQL database instances. And that 82 percent of companies have more than ten copies of every production database instance. Do the math! That's an enormous amount of data copies, and that's just known copies. It doesn't even include copies that have been forgotten and have been sitting around for weeks or months or even years. 

ECX makes it easy to combat this. First, it goes out and catalogs the copies you have, so you start with greater awareness. Then, ECX takes over the process of making copies, so you can keep firm control over the process and have better data governance. Finally, it makes it easy to spin down and delete copies when you are done with them. All of this can be automated or provided on demand. You can even do it via user self-service so that IT keeps control but doesn't have to respond to the barrage of requests they receive for copies of databases. 

VMblog:  How does ECX 2.4 cater to some of the hottest initiatives in the industry, such as DevOps?

Grave:  We aren't new to DevOps. We've been helping to facilitate DevOps for a while by making it very easy to provide API-based access to infrastructure-what a lot of people call "infrastructure as code." IT organizations understand how to do that in the cloud, but it's a lot more difficult to do that on your enterprise storage. But guess what? The vast bulk of your valuable data is sitting on your enterprise storage. So ECX makes it as easy to spin up a workload on top of your data center storage as it is to spin up a workload in Amazon or Azure, the key difference being that you actually have data to work with and not just an empty VM. In the latest release, we have a number of tools and utilities to simplify integrating ECX with popular DevOps tools like Chef, Puppet, IBM Bluemix, etc..  Speaking of which, Catalogic is delighted to have its own ECX page on the Bluemix Garage. 

VMblog:  Can you please explain some use cases for your CDM solution in the Hybrid Cloud?

Grave:  Sure. The biggest gap we see in organizations using Hybrid Cloud is getting access to system-of-record data. Cloud compute is great. It's there when you need it. It's virtually limitless. You only pay for what you use. If you want to spin up 30 compute nodes to work on a big end of quarter analytics job, you can do that without a hitch.  But cloud compute isn't very valuable if there's no data to compute with. And this is where the challenge is: how do I get my data into the cloud so I can leverage the scalable compute?  Here is where ECX provides the answer. ECX simplifies and automates the process of getting your data to where cloud compute can act on it. We've even proven this in technical proof of concept studies with both NetApp and IBM, in each case using the SoftLayer cloud.

VMblog:  What kind of administrative benefits are your customers experiencing from the latest version?

Grave:  We're always working on making the ECX experience better. Those features may not be the sexiest or command the headlines, but they really make the day-to-day operation of ECX more effective. We've added a lot of new capabilities to this release, but let's focus on a couple. One of them is real multi-tenancy. By this we mean that the ECX administrator can create multiple new "tenants," which are unique logical instances of ECX that come from a single ECX deployment. This is a great way for managed service providers or larger enterprises to create additional ECX administrators who have total control of their own domain, but can't control the overall ECX environment. We've added a database sharing capability which allows you to deploy multiple nodes of ECX as a single logical instance, for greater processing power. That's a great fit with the multi-tenancy. And then there's a lot of other improvements, like a better GUI design, more helpful job monitor, new reports, a better online help engine and so on. These are the features that come from customer requests and recommendations, and we're always adding more with every release.

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Thank you to Tom Grave, VP of Marketing at Catalogic Software, for taking time to speak with VMblog.com.