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Actifio Sky adds intelligent search across clouds

Actifio's Sky goes beyond copy data management. It searches and manages data across clouds and on-premises storage with new analytics and a global catalog.

A copy data management pioneer is remaking its image into a data-as-a-service company. With Actifio Sky Platform 8, the vendor incorporated upgrades ranging from support for more public clouds to the ability to intelligently search data no matter where it is located.

The changes reflect how much more important the cloud has become for data management compared to when Actifio started shipping its software in 2011.

The vendor's core technology is the Actifio Virtual Data Pipeline (VDP). Actifio VDP is a global distributed object file system that runs in the public cloud on an Actifio Copy Data Storage physical appliance or on Actifio Sky virtual appliances. Actifio VDP decouples data from the infrastructure to allow tailored service-level agreements for each application.

"This represents several years of development work," said Brian Reagan, chief marketing officer at Actifio, based in Waltham, Mass. "This is the foundation technology that sets the base for the next 10 years [for Actifio]. Cloud has gone from being a curiosity to something that is front and center for every business application discussion."

The Actifio Sky Platform now can natively access data from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM and Oracle clouds. A new hyperscale Cloud Services Catalog lets users search and instantly access data from where it resides, whether it is in a file, block or object format. A native catalog API is the foundation for the Actifio Sky's data analytics capabilities.

George Crump, chief analyst at Storage Switzerland, said Actifio is targeting data that moves between clouds, from on premises to the cloud, and from the cloud to data centers.

"It's anything to anything and everything in between," Crump said.

Crump said Actifio has enhanced its data mobility function in the new platform version by eliminating the need for customers to have a high-quality secondary storage system with its primary storage. Customers now can use a direct cloud model, moving data in either an on-premises object store or in the cloud without replicating it to a secondary storage system first.

"This eliminates the need for secondary, on-premises storage," he said. "You now have the ability to move it directly on premises or to the cloud. You can have a direct cloud model or treat the cloud as a tier."

Actifio's copy data management intelligence removes redundant snapshots, moving data only once to reduce network I/O demands and long-term storage costs. VDP uses changed-block tracking to ensure application consistency. All the use cases feed off a single point-in-time gold copy of the primary data. Customers mount the virtualized copy to perform analytics, application testing, backup, business continuity and disaster recovery.

Actifio Sky's global catalog searches across on-premises locations, physical and virtual servers, and public clouds. It supports various storage environments, such as Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service and S3 APIs, Microsoft Azure Blob Storage, Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage, Hitachi Content Platform, IBM Cloud Object Storage, Google Nearline and Coldline, NetApp StorageGrid, Wasabi, Minio and Scality.

"Wherever that data is, we find it and let you use it from either development, recovery or whatever you use," Reagan said. "We have taken an open source elastic search and incorporated it into our operating system. We are leveraging the largest search engine out there to find data in all your locations, so you can instantly access it where ever it is located."

Reagan said Actifio beefed up object storage support because it is a key cloud technology, gaining popularity as customers move more data to the cloud.

"Data is becoming more important, but it is becoming more distributed," he said. "There will be applications running on premises and running in data centers, but acting like cloud applications. They may start on premises and then move to the cloud. And there will be applications that will start being built in the cloud. We are trying to make sure Actifio is relevant in all [those] platforms."

Crump said Actifio Sky's new global catalog allows customers the breathing room to store data in multiple locations and gives them ability to locate it, as well.

"They are giving you the ability to spread data all over the place, and you can find any copy anywhere it is localized," he said.

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