New ideas often take time to percolate into the collective consciousness. So it is with the concept of “data fabric,” a concept of which ioFABRIC is a chief proponent. A data fabric uses software to create a virtualized storage infrastructure which improves (or even makes possible what was difficult at best) IT’s ability to economically set and manage service levels. Those functions include capacity, performance, and data protection across not only multiple storage systems at a single site, but also on multiple sites or even multiple clouds.

The Status Quo for Storage Infrastructures Is Not Acceptable

Traditionally, IT bought storage on a system by system basis as the need to support a particular application or data set or increase capacity or performance (such as to improve latency with an all-flash storage array) was required. While the decision may have been “locally” optimal for particular reasons, over time the overall storage architecture is very likely not “globally” (i.e., wholly and geographically) optimized. For example, one array may run out of storage space while there is still plenty of capacity available in other arrays.

Planning ahead for future capacity and performance needs is difficult in and of itself and even decisions that were correct at the time may fail as the dynamic requirements of applications and their associated data change. The result is that multiple storage systems tend to result in multiple silos of storage where as a whole (the global one-site sense) storage is not optimized as regards capacity or performance.

This is further eroded when one on more copies of the data have to be stored or used in a multi-site or even multi-cloud basis as one-off decisions to move a particular set of data may not be best cost-wise for all the data under management.

In addition, the location where data is stored is critical for possible regulatory reasons as the storage system where application data was originally created and held may be subject to change. That information was typically not required for traditional IT environments since the stored data for a system were presumed to always stay with the original system that did not move from its original location. That situation changes markedly for many companies utilizing public cloud services.

Enter data fabric software as turbocharged software-defined storage (SDS) solution capable of dealing with those issues.

Introducing ioFABRICs Vicinity 3.0 Software

Data fabric software is essentially a hypervisor for storage that manages information as a unified pool across system boundaries in single-sites and across multiple sites and clouds, as necessary.

ioFABRIC’s Vicinity data fabric software creates automated quality of service (QoS) driven storage. Administrators define policies for what storage must deliver to the organization in terms of performance, capacity, protection, and cost across the existing storage infrastructure. For example, Vicinity can help increase the storage percentage utilization to take advantage of existing capacity without having to add additional capacity as well as get more performance out of existing storage, such as IOPS, where possible.

Naturally, ioFABRIC cannot violate the laws of physics. If enough high-performance storage is not available to meet a latency QoS objective, the two choices are to buy more high-performance storage or change the objective to something that is feasible with the existing storage environment. Vicinity agents also discover all storage media and systems and profile them in terms of their performance, capacity, protection, and cost characteristics, The Vicinity storage fabric then creates QoS-based volumes, which it manages as a single entity.

ioFABRIC claims that data in Vicinity environments is always available, always evergreen, and always protected.  With its latest release, Vicinity 3.0, the concept of always-on data availability has been extended from single sites to a multi-site/multi-cloud basis for business continuity. The failure of an entire site will not prevent the data from being available at another site or cloud. Vicinity 3.0 has a self-healing capability that automatically heals and routes around failures across storage and networks.

In addition, ioFABRIC’s “always evergreen” concept means that Vicinity 3.0 supports policy-driven automatic migration of data between sites and clouds. This is very useful as such processes can be major headaches for IT organizations. In addition, Vicinity 3.0 transforms a local storage infrastructure into an on-premises private cloud that can integrate with public clouds to form a hybrid storage cloud. From the always protected perspective, Vicinity 3.0 enables the use of immutable snapshots that cannot be accessed or altered by ransomware, and also creates automatic SnapCopy snapshots for disaster recovery purposes.

Moreover, with Vicinity 3.0, users can use policy management to place data in specific locations based on usage and cost models. ioFABRIC believes that it has a unique method for automatically using least cost media while retaining all requested storage service level agreements (SLAs). The company uses an AI technique called “swarm intelligence” to map cost optimization across the entire data fabric.

Easily Meeting GDPR Requirements

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, which protect and empower EU citizens’ privacy will affect not only European companies. When GDPR becomes law on May 25, 2018 it will generally impact companies anywhere that have data related to EU citizens. In other words, companies can’t play a game of “Where’s Waldo?” with your data. They have to know what data they have and where it can be legitimately stored to be in compliance with GDPR guidelines. If not, they run the risk of investigations and possible, substantial fines.

With ioFABRIC Vicinity, policies can be set specifying geographical locations where specific data is allowed to reside and tailoring data migration protection rules as necessary. That should substantially relieve much of the stress and many of the complexities of GDPR compliance.

Mesabi musings

Data may be the new oil, but the storage infrastructure in which it resides tends to have been built incrementally over time in a manner such that the overall infrastructure may not be fully or optimally used. Moreover, no one could have foreseen all the changes that would take place, such as the movement to a multi-cloud world that incorporates both an on-premises private cloud with a public cloud nor the need to carefully manage where data is located because of governmental regulations.

Enter ioFABRIC’s Vicinity 3.0 data fabric software that weaves together a storage infrastructure as a seamless whole and enable the QoS automation of storage. With Vicinity 3.0, enterprises can get the most bang for the buck out of their storage resources from performance, capacity, and data protection perspectives both on premises and in the cloud.