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DataGravity data-aware storage throws weight behind Hyper-V

DataGravity goes beyond VMware hypervisor support and now works with Microsoft Hyper-V and its data movement features. Security features were also added.

DataGravity today upgraded its data-aware storage arrays, adding support for Microsoft Hyper-V and improving security with file fingerprinting, user activity alerts and pre-defined tags for HIPAA compliance.

DataGravity released software version 2.2 for its Discovery Series arrays that use metadata to identify sensitive information such as credit card and social security numbers as well as track user activity for files.

Until now the Discovery Series data-aware storage arrays only supported VMware hypervisors. Jeff Boehm, DataGravity's vice president of marketing, said the new features were largely the result of customer requests. DataGravity recently passed the 100-customer mark, according to president John Joseph.

"The vast majority of our customers are VMware virtualized environments," Boehm said. "But obviously VMware is not the only hypervisor in town. Hyper-V also has a good foothold in the market, and we're getting pull from customers who have mixed hypervisors or are Hyper-V shops."

Boehm said DataGravity's Hyper-V support will match its VMware hypervisor support. Customers will be able to look inside Hyper-V virtual machine files, search them, find sensitive data and back them up, and recover them at a VM-level or file-level.

"The value comes from being able to look inside files for sensitive data and user activity tracking," Boehm said.

DataGravity supports Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX), Clustered Shared Volumes and live migration in Hyper-V. ODX speeds data transfer rates when VMs are connected to storage through a SCSI device, making for more efficient reads and writes. Clustered Shared Volumes enable failover of individual VMs from one host to another when the disk files are located on the same storage volume. Live migration moves VMs dynamically between servers.

Security remains key focus

Security has been a big piece of DataGravity's data-aware storage feature set, and version 2.2 includes new file fingerprinting, user activity alerts and enhanced personal health information (PHI) tagging.

File fingerprinting allows admins to identify and track sensitive information through the SHA-1 hash algorithm for message authentication. "This is a super powerful tool for us," Joseph said of file fingerprinting. "It's easy to paste into search recovery tools, and can reduce a megabytes-sized file into a single fingerprint."

DataGravity's data-aware storage previously could find files and identify which employees were accessing them, but the new user activity alerts let admins set alerts for events such as when a certain number of files are updated or deleted or when a single user touches a number of files. "They get alerted when anomalous activity happens," Boehm said.

The alerting can combat and identify CryptoLocker ransomware, which updates many files quickly. It can also determine if an employee leaving the company is reading, updating, creating or deleting an unusual number of files.

The new tagging capability will scan for 10-digit National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers required for HIPAA transactions and patient medical record systems. Health providers can use DataGravity to scan for NPI numbers to quickly ensure files are in the right place and properly protected.

Market uses tagging to track data

Jungle Jim's International Market, which has 200,000-plus square feet supermarkets in Cincinnati and Fairfield, Ohio, uses DataGravity for primary storage for approximately 400 total users. IT manager Will Bradshaw said Jungle Jim's purchased two DataGravity 1100 2U data-aware storage systems with 18 TB of hard disk drives and 1.2 TB of flash last fall, placing one in each of its sites. He finished migrating data off of the EMC VNX5300 arrays Jungle Jim's had used for primary storage at the start of January, and now uses DataGravity for primary storage, data analytics and disaster recovery.

Bradshaw said he switched to DataGravity because Jungle Jim's must meet strict PCI compliance standards as a retailer, and DataGravity gave him analytics and an easy-to-use storage array for less than a VNX array. Jungle Jim's uses the VNX at its DR site, replicating data with Zerto hypervisor-based software.

Although not a healthcare firm, Bradshaw said DataGravity's metadata tagging helps Jungle Jim's maintain PCI compliance by tracking where sensitive information is stored.

"The tagging and analytics side are paramount to us," Bradshaw said. "It helps us guarantee PCI compliance and make sure we don't have rogue users doing anything that we prohibit via policy. We make sure all of the HR files, social security numbers, email addresses and any other data we want to keep track of [are] in the place it should be. We make sure the people that should be accessing the data are accessing it, and the people who shouldn't be accessing it aren't accessing it."

Bradshaw said Jungle Jim's uses only VMware for virtualization, but he considers the file hashing additions to DataGravity 2.2 data-aware storage arrays important because they can guarantee files have not been modified. "We have the ability to correlate the data we already have and make sure everything meshes," he said.

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