GigaOm assesses unstructured data management market


Analyst house GigaOm has researched the unstructured data management supplier field and given its assessment of their respective feature sets and goals.

The report looks at business-focused suppliers of unstructured data management (UDM) products and not infrastructure-focused ones. GigaOm divides the two like this:

  • Business focus: Solutions designed to solve business-related problems, including compliance, security, data governance, big data analytics, e-discovery, and so on.
  • Infrastructure focus: Solutions designed to target data management at the infrastructure level and metadata, including automatic tiering and basic information lifecycle management, data copy management, analytics, index, and search.

UDM products can be user-managed, installed and run on-premises while working in hybrid cloud environments as well, or presented as a SaaS offering based on a cloud back end, and traditionally optimized more for hybrid and multi-cloud, and mobile/edge use cases.

The vendors included are Aparavi, Cohesity, CTERA, Data Dynamics, Druva, Hitachi Vantara, IBM, Nasuni, NetApp, and Varonis. A separate GigOm report, “Key Criteria for Evaluating Unstructured Data Management Solutions,” details the evaluation criteria and metrics used by the report authors. 

 Here is the unstructured data management radar diagram:

GigaOm radar report

GigaOm’s radar diagram locates suppliers in a flat circular space. There are three concentric circles with the inner being for leaders, the next for challengers, and the outer for new entrants. Those closer to the center are judged to be of higher overall value. The positions and directions of movement arrows pertain to the coming 12 to 18 months.

The leaders are IBM (Spectrum Discover), Hitachi Vantara, Varonis (Data Security Platform), and NetApp (Cloud Data Sense). Future leaders are Cohesity, Data Dynamics, and Druva. Hitachi Vantara’s portfolio has three mentioned elements – Hitachi Ops Center Protector, Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) object store, and Hitachi Content Intelligence (HCI).

Overall there are three groups of suppliers:

  • Platform-based approaches with Varonis leading this pack
  • Mature and proven offerings from IBM and Hitachi Vantara
  • Feature players Aparavi, CTERA (which uses Varonis for security), and Nasuni

The chart suggests Varonis and NetApp are poised to overtake Hitachi Vantara and IBM. The report authors say:

Varonis leads the pack with a compelling solution that combines unstructured data management capabilities with a strong security and risk-based approach that is complemented by artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). The solution combines data classification with the ability to detect exposure and suspicious access to sensitive data, regulatory compliance handling, and advanced security capabilities, including AI-assisted permission adjustments.

It also offers a rich ecosystem consisting of third-party integrations, SaaS application support, and direct integration with some storage solutions.

NetApp offers a formidable set of business capabilities with regulatory compliance management (including handling of DSARs, advanced PII identification, and data classification), a comprehensive data source support, a contextual AI engine that automatically categorizes data based on context understanding, and support of NetApp’s rich on-premises and cloud-based ecosystem. Cohesity offers a formidable platform with comprehensive, end-to-end unstructured data management capabilities under a single umbrella, offering a one-stop shop to organizations seeking the most complete coverage, including privacy compliance.

The report author’s overall view is that “in the business segment, Varonis is leading, with NetApp and Cohesity close behind. Varonis offers the most comprehensive feature set with a strong focus on security and a risk-based approach to data management. This is a notable advantage in an increasingly complex environment where organizations have limited personnel to handle two very complex and time-demanding issues (security and regulatory risk).

“Cohesity already had an enviable position and managed to close the gap with additional features around governance and compliance. NetApp has remarkable classification and data discovery capabilities using AI and ML to detect different patterns and categories. The company also is innovating at a very rapid pace.”

They note that “some of our evaluated solutions come from data protection vendors. These are interesting developments because data protection is often the ‘final target’ where all of an organization’s data is collected, opening the door to many data analysis and classification opportunities. This data is also relevant from a privacy and regulatory perspective, notably for legal retention requests.”

They also point out that “cloud file storage solutions… manage a significant data share and offer the immediacy provided by live production data. Data growth trends and operations can be analyzed in real time, and the same type of analysis can be done to identify anomalies and potential ransomware attacks.”

NetApp, rated as a a leader, has made the full report available here.