Wish Your Data Storage Upon a Cloud

by admin on April 19, 2009

Data storage is to sys admins as taxes are to small businessman. Both are  unavoidable, tedious, a pain in the butt, cost money to do properly, cost even more money if you screw up, and you end up becoming somewhat knowledgeable on the subject matter despite your best efforts to avoid the issue altogether.

So when Alan Chiu emailed me saying he worked for a data storage company called Bycast, and we should  get together for coffee, I was somewhat interested in the company he worked for, in the same way I am interested when my accountant phones me up and says he may have found another tax exemption.

But really I did coffee with Alan because he is a Creo alumni and he did managment consulting after Creo, same as yours truly, so swapping war stories was the real intent of the meeting. But since I suspect the reader might be more interested the topic of data storage, we'll talk about that instead of intriguing consulting war stories like "How you do you diplomatically tell your client they are wrong, wrong, wrong, and they are flushing their company down the toilet?"

Ever been a sys admin? Well here is what it's like: You've got bits of data scattered all over the organization, on desktops and servers and maybe even on some old CDs and tape drives (shudder). You are supposed to keep track of it all. You are supposed to back up all of it. You are supposed to do all of this with no budget, unless you are a fair-sized organization with a formal IT department. But sometimes even then...

Oh sure, if you are lucky, you have a server with a RAID and maybe some mirror drives on servers running some critical databases. Have you ever heard of data synchronization? That's another flavor of IT purgatory: You can't back up all your data on a daily basis or you would soon run of storage space, you can only back up data that has been altered or updated. But how do you tell what data has been altered and therefore needs to be backed up? Hence the need for special data software that can determined data discrepancies. But now you've introduced another variable in the equation. Ever notice that data sticks around, well, virtually forever? And storage receptables do not (ever hear of zip drives)?

Hence the need for companies like Bycast, (and by the way, their technology architect has his own blog: Read it if you really want to geek out on this stuff). To put it (very) simply, Bycast OEMs software through IBM and HP that allows companies to put their data in a cloud consisting of storage devices within their organization, allowing for device independent data storage that can accessed by multiple users within the organization.

In plain English, if a hard drive blows, nobody notices because the data is stored redundantly on the grid. If you are a system administrator, you get excited thinking about this because hard-drive blowouts are one of the biggest headaches in the industry. If you are not a system administrator, you are probably not excited but all the same, just feel happy that your data is always safe.

The stuff that Bycast is doing is pretty much behind-the-scenes for most people but in ten years time or less, every company that has data storage solution will be adopting the  type of storage solutions that Bycast offers. Or so I predict.

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