Vendors are selling Big Data as a kind of Jedi Knight that adds value to the enterprise through its insights. But for every Jedi Knight, there is a Sith Warrior. In the case of Big Data, it's sprawling stores of unstructured data that can strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest database administrators. It's pretty tough to analyze data if you can't manage it.
Symantec wants to play Obi-Wan Kenobi by helping businesses get a grip on Big Data with the release of Data Insight 3.0.
What's lacking in managing and protecting unstructured data is accountability, according to Symantec. The latest version of its Data Insight software hopes to remedy that shortcoming with new features that establish chains of ownership and monitor file usage patterns for the proper handling of sensitive and private information.
Establishing custodial roles and leveraging automation are the core concepts behind Data Custodian Management, a new feature Symantec says will make workers accountable for the data they interact with and produce. It allows organizations to automatically match access to unstructured data to persons within an organization. This functionality helps storage and security administrators bolster their data protection efforts by providing analytics and intelligence on usage, permissions and data classification.
Citing Gartner research that shows data growing at a rate of 40 to 60 percent -- up to 80 percent for unstructured data -- Symantec says the sheer volume of data conflicts with business goals such as meeting compliance obligations and reducing costs.
Anil Chakravarthy, senior vice president of Symantec's Storage and Availability Management Group, spells out the management challenges posed by unstructured data. Keeping tabs on data "is relatively easy for databases used by accounting, the CRM tools used by sales, or the libraries used by marketing" he writes in a blog post, but "it becomes unmanageable for the millions of files classified as unstructured data."
How to Tame Big Data
In a nod to Big Data's impact on storage management, Symantec is touting Data Insight's appetite for large data sets courtesy of its scalable, parallelized underpinnings, as well as optimizations to the product's indexing and query algorithms. According to Chakravarthy, "Data Insight is tracking hundreds of TBs of data with millions of files/folders and billions of access events generated by high workloads."
Data Insight is also being positioned as a storage optimization aid. Based on its automated analytics, data classification and reporting capabilities, storage administrators can identify inactive or orphan data and tweak data retention policies to delete, archive or move data to other, less costly tiers of storage.
In this latest version, Data Insight strengthens its ties with other data management offerings from Symantec. Combined with Symantec Data Loss Prevention, it offers risk scoring and sensitive data alerts to help safeguard confidential data. Aveksa Access Governance suite integration helps businesses toughen their compliance efforts by applying Data Insight's analytics for tighter access control policies. New Veritas Storage Foundation 6.0 hooks extend Data Insight's data management to the platform's file serving functions.
Data Insight is compatible with NAS solutions from NetApp and EMC, as well as Windows File Servers, Microsoft SharePoint and Unix File Servers. Directory services support includes Microsoft Active Directory, LDAP, and NIS/NIS+.
Data Insight is available now at a starting price of $5,000. Per-user or per-TB licensing options are available.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.