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Data won't rest

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Chris Gondek
Chris “Gonzo” Gondek

Data is almost always on the move. That’s especially true given that storage systems have typically been refreshed almost every 3 years since we started creating data, and now with cloud storage offerings, it’s on the move again. Will data finally find its perpetual resting place in the cloud? Not likely. There are always going to be drivers that push data to different locations. These drivers, mostly cost and performance related, evolve over time as needs change and market offerings improve.

So if data isn’t resting, what is it doing? Technically, data is always in one of three states:

  • Data at rest. Data that is housed physically on computer data storage in any digital form and that includes both structured and unstructured data.
  • Data in motion (data in transit, data in flight). Digital information that is in the process of being transported between locations, either within or between computer systems.
  • Data in use. Active data that is stored in a nonpersistent digital state, typically in RAM, CPU caches, or CPU registers.

While data is “resting” for periods of time, it is in persistent storage (storage that keeps data there, even when it’s turned off), and this storage costs money to maintain. It also has a significant impact on the environment. As NetApp Chief Technology Evangelist Matt Watts wrote, “Currently, two thirds of the world’s data isn’t used. We call this ‘digital waste.’ And what we need to understand about data is that it has mass, it has to physically exist somewhere. This means that all data has a carbon footprint.”

So the drivers to set data in motion are not just cost and aging storage infrastructure—there is also the desire to move, or “tier,” to more ecofriendly environments such as shared services infrastructure like the cloud.

For this and other reasons (primarily cloud adoption), a lot of data is being set in motion. This activity is called data migration—the process of selecting, preparing, extracting, and transforming data and (typically) permanently transferring it from one computer storage system to another.

Although moving data may seem like an easy task, there are so many varieties of data storage systems and their file systems that a simple operation like moving data may require more than just a Move or Copy command. Also, a lot of this data is mission critical to current business operations and may require a nondisruptive data migration. Finally, there’s the sheer volume of the data. We have progressed from megabytes in the 1980s to petabytes and beyond today, so the majority of data migration challenges are associated with the time it takes to complete them.

We know that we need to migrate data, that the source and destination will always be arbitrary, that there will be various sizes to deal with, and that we want to do it in a nondisruptive fashion. To achieve all of these requirements from a technology perspective, we typically use data replication technology. Data replication is typically extendable across a computer network and creates an exact replica at the destination. This technology has typically been used for off-site disaster recovery, but it is increasingly used for data migration because it can be done non disruptively. Data replication technology also ensures that all data and changes are being replicated over the time period of the migration activity.

Moving data on your terms

At NetApp we have been working with and managing data for many years. Even with the evolution of a hybrid multicloud world, we provide mechanisms to efficiently and securely move data between environments with a simple intuitive user experience.

I have previously written about how NetApp brings multiple data environments together from across the hybrid multicloud. (Check out my blog, The cloud polyglot.)And in a homogenous NetApp world, we would always leverage our SnapMirror® technology.

SnapMirror makes replicating and synchronizing data between two storage environments very easy. But what do you do when one or both of those environments aren’t equipped with the SnapMirror technology? NetApp® Cloud Sync is designed to solve this problem, bringing powerful data replication and synchronization capabilities to help you get your data where you need it.

Cloud Sync is software as a service (SaaS) that consists of a data broker, a cloud-based interface available through NetApp Cloud Manager, and a source and target. It supports a wide array of storage types as either a source or a target for synchronization, from cloud file and object storage to NFS and SMB storage on premises and in between. So whether you’re migrating data to a more cost-efficient or higher-performance NetApp storage option, or you need your on-premises ONTAP® storage replicated elsewhere for big data analytics, Cloud Sync can flexibly accomplish this goal.

This service (like Cloud Manager) is completely hosted, operated, and maintained by NetApp, so you simply “switch it on” for multiple on-premises and cloud storage repositories as needed.

For a taste of what I’m talking about, check out my video:

Chris “Gonzo” Gondek

My mission is to enable data champions everywhere. I have always been very passionate about technology with a career spanning over two decades, specializing in Data and Information Management, Storage, High Availability and Disaster Recovery Solutions including Virtualization and Cloud Computing.

I have a long history with Data solutions, having gained global experience in the United Kingdom and Australia where I was involved in creating Technology and Business solutions for some of Europe and APAC’s largest and most complex IT environments.

An industry thought leader and passionate technology evangelist, frequently blogging all things Data and active in the technology community speaking at high profile events such as Gartner Symposium, IDC events, AWS summits and Microsoft Ignite to name a few. Translating business value from technology and demystifying complex concepts into easy to consume and procure solutions. A proven, highly skilled and internationally experienced sales engineer and enterprise architect having worked for leading technology vendors, I have collected experiences and developed skills over almost all Enterprise platforms, operating systems, databases and applications.

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