Managing the Data Archives Manager

Can MOM—a manager-of-managers for data archives—really make it all better?

Recent announcements from Computer Associates and Atempo show both companies aspiring to become MOMs: manager-of-managers for data archives. Both have taken the well-traveled path of acquiring other companies to build their product sets.

CA briefed me on an announcement involving its CA Message Manager (CAMM) software. CAMM is the re-branding of Assentor Enterprise, part of the product set acquired last year with the assets of iLumin. The meat of the announcement: CAMM will now work and play with Oracle’s Collaboration Suite 10g integrated collaborative environment. According to the CA announcement, this integration enables customers to retain and manage e-mail messages across the enterprise to more effectively meet rapidly escalating compliance, litigation support, and corporate governance requirements.

The really important part of the announcement was only hinted at by a paragraph in the release: “In addition to supporting Oracle Collaboration Suite 10g, CA Message Manager can be used with a wide range of other messaging applications—providing customers with a single point-of-control for management and archiving of messages across the enterprise.”

In my conversation with Mike Gundling, vice president of development for CA’s storage-management business unit with specific responsibilities for CAMM, future aspirations are not just limited to partnerships. Eventually, CA wants to be your MOM.

I mentioned that I was surprised by the relationship with Oracle, which, of course, is trying to build not only its own Manager of Managers for data but its own operating system complete with file system (IFS) and backup routine. Oracle bills its Collaboration Suite 10g as “a set of integrated content and collaboration services—including enterprise content management, Web conferencing, instant messaging, presence, e-mail, calendaring, voicemail, and fax and mobile access—built on the Oracle Fusion Middleware platform.” They are using the Collaboration Suite concept as a way to invite partners to plug into the Oracle dream of becoming the manager of services up and down the technology stack for its customers.

Why would CA want to buy into this? Why wouldn’t the company, long known for its efforts to build an enterprise management framework, prefer to build its own MOM?

From the conversation with Grundling, it seemed clear that the Oracle move was essentially a tactical one. If there are opportunities to leverage Oracle’s huge installed base to acquaint consumers with CAMM, then Islandia is all for it. Going forward, however, plans are brewing at CA to extend the data management story beyond e-mail and messaging to become a full-fledged MOM in its own right. This may include additional product acquisitions, but there is also significant development going on behind the scenes, alluded Grundling, using iLumin’s technology for metadata management that may shortly yield a cradle-to-grave solution for e-mail as well as document management archiving, database archiving, and that holiest-of-holies, file management. We are waiting for a roadmap and will report it when we see it.

Atempo Makes An Atempto

Coincidentally, I had the opportunity to catch up with Atempo this week, who earlier in the month announced its plans to become a MOM using its own technology along with additional wares obtained through the purchase of Storactive in early March. Atempo entered the U.S. market from France a few years ago, endeavoring to gain share in a crowded backup software market.

Just when the enormous challenges represented by this strategy seemed ready to push the company out of the market and back to Europe, Atempo US switched gears. They refocused and re-honed their marketing spinto tout themselves as the purveyor of “trusted Information Lifecycle Management” instead of backup/restore, and began emphasizing the capabilities of their product to manage archives via secure snapshots.

This is an interesting play, as I learned more about it from Stephen Terlizzi, vice president of global marketing. In essence, the company seeks to use its metadata repository (nearly every backup software package out there stores metadata about the files it backs up to disk or tape) as a mechanism for data management. What makes Atempo different is the purported level of granularity that it can bring to archive management via its “innovative metadata infrastructure.”

“We can interrogate the contents of a snapshot,” according to Terlizzi, “enabling us to find specific data in an archive set and expose it to security and compliance policies.” He says that this capability, which can be used with both Microsoft VSS snapshots and Network Appliance Snap Vaults, provides a key for managing archived data.

Storactive adds continuous data protection to the mix and facilitates the all-important goal of “data de-duplication”—eliminating unnecessary duplicates of files—which, in turn, buys back physical storage space in the archive. CDP components include LiveBackup, continuous data protection software aimed at Windows PCs and laptops, and LiveServ for Exchange, which delivers CDP for Exchange mail.

All told, this is a different approach from most of the other companies out there today touting data lifecycle management. Whereas most strategies seek to classify and categorize data at point of creation, Atempo’s strategy is to leverage what already exists, snapshots and archival backup metadata, as the means to groom and manage the proliferation of data.

Is it as effective or efficient a mechanism as, say, the Bridgehead Software approach? (Bridgehead’s is about the most developed solution I’ve seen to date for migrating data of different types into carefully managed archival silos and managing it from a common policy engine.) That remains to be seen.

The real differentiators in all of these MOM approaches are two-fold: first, they must provide an intuitive and easy-to-use mechanism for managing the contents of archival silos of data of different types (ECM, e-mail/messaging, database, and user files). Each vendor claims to provide a “one-throat-to-choke” solution for ensuring that the right data is retained per policy, the right data is deleted per policy, and the necessary security level is afforded to data each step of the way.

Secondly, the products will be differentiated by the granularity of classification that their tools provide for the data under management. Just wrangling all data from human resources into an archive is a challenge. However, the real heavy lifting comes when you have to separate the data that is truly important and subject to regulatory retention/deletion requirements from the large quantity of junk data—the product of an HR person with too much spare time on his or her hands and an irrepressible need to download from the Internet every MP3 music file from a favorite band for later transfer to an iPod.

Without the granular sort, these solutions are less useful than you might think. I look forward to testing a few of them shortly. If you are already a user of these products and want to sound off about them one way or the other, feel free to send me your views:

About the Author

Jon William Toigo is chairman of The Data Management Institute, the CEO of data management consulting and research firm Toigo Partners International, as well as a contributing editor to Enterprise Systems and its Storage Strategies columnist. Mr. Toigo is the author of 14 books, including Disaster Recovery Planning, 3rd Edition, and The Holy Grail of Network Storage Management, both from Prentice Hall.