Datadobi charts course for AI with StorageMAP

Datadobi used to concentrate on one-off projects like finding files for migration and moving them to a different filer. Finding files has evolved into regular scanning and migration targets include cloud object storage for AI processing.

The company’s StorageMAP technology scans and lists a customer’s entire file and object storage estates, enabling customers to find out what they have in their distributed unstructured data silos. This helps them to manage their data more effectively, moving old data to archives, in the cloud for example, or deleting unwanted data.

We have seen a blurring of the boundaries between file and object storage, with file systems getting S3 wrappers, export capabilities and even object underpinnings, like with Nasuni. Object storage is getting file access layered on top. Conversion between the two formats is not something Datadobi sees in a general way, though.

Michael Jack.

Even the cloud providers can be seen as downplaying object in favor of file. Datadobi co-founder and chief revenue officer Michael Jack said AWS “is doubling down on replacing datacenter file processing.” It has a large storage team and has been recruiting from the major datacenter file storage suppliers. “If you want to take out large datacenters it has to be file.”

Jack said in a briefing that “NAS to object is not really happening.” He asked whether there is real value in this conversion and said: “What is valuable about object storage apart from cost? We don’t see cost analysis being done in any significant way.”

CTO Carl D’Halluin said an intrinsic value of object storage was scale since it is not burdened with the file:folder directory structure of file storage. At large scale – billions of files – object storage is simpler to access because of this. He said: “We see NAS-to-object copy for further processing. For example, analysis with cloud AI tools.” He expects generative AI to drive this trend higher.

Jack chimed in that copy to the cloud “is not about cost. They need it in the cloud where cloud-native apps can run against it… It’s a workflow thing.” Such apps and tools are typically cloud-native and built to access object storage, not file. Object on flash storage provides the IO speed such apps need. He said a Datadobi AWS partnership is focused on generative AI use cases.

He suggested that a customer could send 100PB or more of file data to cloud object storage for such processing. Datadobi’s customers need to identify which data to send in this situation, and for that they need to know what data they have and where it is. Enter StorageMAP.

Carl D'Halluin, Datadobi
Carl D’Hailluin

D’Hailluin said that if you use apps like Varonis to crack open files and detect personally identifiable information (PII), it is resource-intensive and can only run on a small subset of files. You can’t run against 100PB data sets. But StorageMap can, he told us. It doesn’t actually crack open the files, instead it classifies files, such as HR ones, and then this subset can be given to Varonis to crack open.

Due to this broad scanning capability, StorageMAP is becoming a standalone utility, finding data for analysis, replication, PII tracking and analysis, for example. It’s multi-vendor and hybrid cloud capable. “Every customer is multi-vendor and hybrid cloud,” Jack said.

Datadobi licenses StorageMAP on a subscription basis and so earns recurring revenue. Dobi Migrate is pay-per-use, which fits its typical one-off project usage.

In Australia, new regulations mandate that critical data must be secured against ransomware. Backup apps such as Rubrik can backup the data to an immutable vault but they can’t scan the customers unstructured data estate to find the critical data. Jack said this is a job that StorageMAP can do and so works with data protection apps like Rubrik.

He added, alluding to the company’s rivals: “We’ll stay out of the data path because customers don’t want another lock in.”

Jack commented: “Migration has always been about defeating lock-in. We move files from vendor A to vendor B.”