Within the enterprise many attempts have been made to corral the growth of unstructured data into organizational systems that can provide visibility and control. Document sharing and management systems have increased in popularity, but the existence of large amounts of unstructured data has not only continued, but the volume of data itself has exploded. Despite IT’s efforts to corral this data or even in conjunction with them, a need to understand and protect this data has grown with the data itself.
A New Type of Data Management
The fact that there are many companies within the traditional backup space that are trying to address this issue validates the need for a solution itself. Products that were made to protect structured data in the likes of relational databases and email systems or copy VM data wholesale to a secondary storage location are now undergoing an initiative to become wholesale data management platforms. Rather than just being a storage platform that can be used as a recovery mechanism in the event of a disaster, gathering information about the data that users are creating and providing insight and recoverability to the individual documents and files created by users is the new value proposition of a data management platform.
We have seen some success amongst existing platforms to introduce such functionality and enhance recoverability beyond simply choosing a dataset from a particular point in time. The transformation from a traditional data protection product to a complete data management platform is not simple and quick however and sometimes adopting a new operation model requires starting over to effectively accomplish a goal. I recently had a conversation with Jon Calmes of Aparavi who helped me understand their company and platform and how they are different than the existing products trying to make their way into the unstructured data management space.
The Aparavi Difference
Founded in 2016 by Adrian Knapp and Rod Christensen, Aparavi is focused on solving the problem of managing unstructured data that can exist between multiple clouds and on premises locations. They recognized that the amount of files created by organizations and their users would only continue to grow and that a new class of data protection product would be needed as the needs of the stakeholders changed both from a business and data governance standpoint.
Unlike many familiar data protection products, Aparavi is not focused on your VMs or the structured databases that you may already be protecting with other solutions. The goal of Aparavi is to protect and understand the unstructured data the exists within multiple locations and make sense of it to ensure that it can be located when needed and retained in the appropriate manner. This is accomplished through a SaaS platform that leverages cloud storage and an open API and data format. This makes data accessible and secondary storage growth controllable as unstructured data sprawls across an organization.
By leveraging Aparavi to protect unstructured data customers do not just gain peace of mind, they also gain control and visibility. With increasing scrutiny and regulation on how organizations store and retain data, this is a boon to enterprise IT. Regulations brought about by the likes of GDPR and the right to be forgotten require that organizations understand what data exists and where and to be able to retain or not retain it based on the situation. Unstructured data previously created a tremendous obstruction in situations such as these. Solutions such as Aparavi, created to solve such challenges provide an answer. Data can not only be retained as needed, it can also be pruned to ensure that regulations and legal hold is adhered to as necessary.
The platform is being further enhanced with features an improvements such as direct backup to cloud, data classifications and tagging, and next generation search this week. Support for multiple cloud storage platforms including AWS, Azure, and Wasabi among others in addition to bulk-data migration ensure that data is both easy to find and store.
Unique and Indispensable
No only does Aparavi’s platform bring a solution to understanding and protecting unstructured data, it in ensures that it will always be accessible. As previously mentioned, the platform uses an open API and data structure. The API is a table stakes feature in the enterprise today as developers need to be able to address data and applications programmatically, but the standout and unique feature truly is the open data format. The way in which Aparavi is storing data is completely documented to ensure that customers can access the archives created by Aparavi regardless of their status as a customer.
This is notable for a couple of reasons. When is the last time you saw a backup product that stored data in a format that could be read by anything other than the backup product itself? This is a very rare feature as it provides a means for customers to easily switch data protection products which the vendor clearly would not be happy with. Aparavi’s attitude towards this possibility is that if a customer wants to switch, then they did not do enough to retain them in the first place.
This is a refreshing perspective that is rare among vendors and it grants a new level of control over archive data to customers. It also opens up the possibility of the data being available long after the platform is gone. Even if Aparavi is successful and continues business for decades to come, there is always that “what if” scenario that is easily answered by the unique and invaluable open data format. By storing the metadata along with the archives, data is allowed to exist freely in perpetuity according to customer needs.
Sometimes when we’ve been doing something for a while we need to take a step back and evaluate the situation to determine if the “old way” is still the best way to accomplish a goal. This is true of many practices including enterprise IT operations. Using a fresh perspective often yields a new solution to an old problem. In the case of unstructured data protection and management, seeing a new platform like Aparavi take on a increasingly difficult problem that is not solved by existing products and strategies is not only revitalizing to the data protection space, it’s necessary.
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