More Thoughts on Copy Data Management

By Steve Scully, Monday, June 4th 2018

Analyst Blogs

I ended my last Copy Data Management (CDM) blog with several follow-on questions about the CDM market we are evaluating.  But before moving forward with those questions, I wanted to add to the first discussion based on feedback from that last blog. We appreciate the feedback we do get since it furthers our understanding and the industry discussion, especially in evolving product areas, so keep it coming.

As part of my evaluation of the market, I defined two architectural approaches used by CDM solutions to discover and identify data copies and orchestrate their use going forward.  I defined these as In-place CDM and Capture CDM.  The feedback from some readers were that those two buckets didn’t fully address all the approaches.  I agree with those readers since there are probably as many approaches as there are CDM solutions.  The key difference in these categories I was trying to capture was whether an organization can leverage the copies and infrastructure they already have, or do they need to acquire new infrastructure which will create and deploy a golden copy.  The most compelling feedback came from one vendor whose approach is really a hybrid of the two.  They can work with copies of data that already exist and can add new unstructured data to the environment through new infrastructure and the capture approach.

There wasn’t any feedback on what’s driving the interest in CDM or the benefits it can provide so the assumption is that most readers agree in general those aspects.

Onto some of the questions from the previous CDM blog.   As I have been doing more evaluation and getting briefed on new CDM releases, my thoughts are evolving and will continue to do so.  Part of that evolution is tied into thinking about what data protection will look like in 5 or 10 years.

1) One question was – “Is CDM the new Backup?” When I started evaluating the CDM market, I would have answered the question this way – “CDM is not the new backup but the new backup will include CDM.”  I’m now thinking that the answer is closer to – “For some, CDM could be the new backup.”
The CDM applications in the market today are not going to replace all the data protection and recovery requirements of every IT organization.  They won’t support legacy systems and applications because the investment is too great for the return.  Some organizations are mandated to use specific backup applications or to use a separate application for backup than other data management applications (though mandates can change over time).  Most IT organizations don’t change backup processes and solutions lightly, so the challenge to be the new backup would be significant for CDM.
For a CDM application to work for backup, a company would need to be well along in a digital transformation and modernization process.  The environment would need a high degree of virtualization and flexibility and would likely have planned for CDM capabilities from the start.  As long as those organizations don’t need access to legacy backup data, there are CDM applications available that could be used to provide data protection to certain environments.  This would not be backup in the classic sense, but would provide copies of the data that were protected and recoverable in the case of disasters.

2) Another related question was – “Does CDM replace Archiving?” This is a variation of the question above with a similar answer.  For some IT organizations, CDM could fulfill certain desired archive requirements, especially when it comes to reducing primary storage needs and for storing copies for long-term retention.  Companies who have not deployed an archiving solution (and there are many) could leverage CDM solutions today to meet these types archiving requirements.  As with backup, current CDM applications will not satisfy all archive activities, especially those have some a unique set of capabilities or a specific industry focus.  For IT organizations that have already deployed an archive solution, it would be a significant undertaking to replace that application with CDM.

There are still more questions to answer from the first blog and an update on the vendors we have looked at.  As before, expect a future blog and feel free to comment on this one.

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