Definition

copy data management (CDM)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Develop copy management systems for streamlined production
Contributor(s): Erin Sullivan

Copy data management (CDM) is an approach to reducing storage consumption that involves eliminating the unnecessary duplication of production data.

Backup software and other enterprise applications operate independently, often creating multiple copies of the same data. Redundant copies of the same data, however, can waste storage space, slow down network performance and make accessing or restoring  mission critical data more difficult. CDM software can help eliminate those problems by reducing the number of full copies.

Most CDM software works by creating just one full copy of the data. When unique changes are made to the production environment, the software creates and stores a snapshot of incremental changes at the block level. The snapshot mechanism creates a read/write differencing disk with a parent-child relationship to the backup copy without creating an entire new copy. Because write operations are not directed to the backup copy, administrators do not have to worry about the contents of the primary backup being changed by accident. Reducing the number of full copies also reduces the chance of server sprawl and has a positive effect on costs, because valuable storage space is not taken up with unnecessary copies of data.

The phrase copy data management was made popular by storage vendor Actifio. Actifio captures production data, keeps a golden master current and spawns unlimited virtual copies for use whenever a copy of production data is needed. In a development, analytics or test environment, this approach is especially important; it means that the development, analytics or test environment can be based on an exact replica of the organization's production data without unnecessarily consuming storage space before it is needed.

This was last updated in May 2015

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What copy data management techniques have you used?
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All CDM solutions not only strive to minimize unnecessary copies, but also improve the usage of copies that are necessary. Most copies just sit idle today.

However, "Most" common approaches aren't always the "best". The practice of requiring a "golden" copy for all data that is managed by the CDM solution is highly restrictive to a user. A better approach is to offer users the flexibility to make use of "in-place" snapshots offered by storage arrays for the production copies. Requiring users to make an extra copy to manage all the other extra copies doesn't sound like the best of ideas.

Also, CDM solutions without the need for dedicated hardware would serve users well in the short and the long run. CDM solutions should enable and reuse storage without the need to procure or dedicate hardware resources specifically for copy data management. 

Catalogic Software offers a software only CDM solution that works on top of NetApp and IBM storage. It's only a matter of time before EMC and other storage platforms are listed under compatible storage arrays as well. Maximize your existing investments in storage with what you have... instead of procuring more new storage and appliances!
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