DataGravity pointed the way to data rather than storage management

DataGravity pointed the way to data rather than storage management

Chris EvansData Management, Data Mobility, Storage, Storage Management

Note: This post was originally authored in July 2017.  It has been updated to reflect and link to some of the later storage management stories in the news.

It’s interesting to see The Register report that DataGravity, a storage startup has been acquired.  At this stage there are only rumours and as yet the buyer has not been officially identified.  As a concept the company pushed a sensible idea; know more about the data your are storing to be able to offer value-add data services.  Unfortunately the implementation didn’t come up to scratch.  In 2014 we really didn’t need another storage appliance, especially a dual-controller one that used the inactive controller for doing the data management tasks.

Go Virtual

In the final pivot of the company, the data awareness IP was moved to a virtual machine form-factor, which made more sense, but perhaps still wasn’t reflective of the ways in which we are moving to use our data content.  Maybe if the company had worked with existing appliance vendors to incorporate their IP in some way, things could have been different.  An acquisition by one of the big vendors would also have been more appropriate.

Storage is Done

In most respects, the physical aspect of data storage is done as a problem to solve.  Yes, I know this is a bold statement and I’m prepared for the backlash, but think about it; we have countless storage hardware platforms, software-defined solutions and even storage in public cloud that is so obfuscated from the user that no-one cares how Amazon, Google or Azure are actually delivering it.  New solution vendors are fixing the same problems; getting access to the data with lower latency and higher throughput.

We’re actually only at the outset of resolving the data management issue. If this problem had been solved, then the good folks at Rubrik and Cohesity wouldn’t have been able to raise such impressive rounds of funding.  These days, VCs clearly see the difference between storage and data management.  Storage companies are having a hard time raising capital; data management aren’t.

The Architect’s View

The rise and fall of DataGravity points towards a future of commoditised storage hardware for all but the most demanding workloads.  Look across the storage ecosystem and how many companies are delivering data awareness and tools to extract value from data – not many.  It’s true that there will always be new and improved storage solutions, many of which are very innovative.  But if public cloud grabs the percentage of enterprise workloads that is being forecast, will future CIOs be purchasing on-premises storage or data-aware appliances?  I suspect the latter, and that’s where the puck is headed…

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