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Catalogic Software ECX copy management cozies up with IBM

Months after Catalogic made its ECX copy data management software compatible with IBM storage arrays, the vendors have jointly developed combinations of ECX with IBM products.

The relationship between Catalogic Software and IBM has moved beyond Catalogic's ECX working with IBM storage systems.

Through a joint development partnership, Catalogic and IBM have brought out a set of validated product combinations matching Catalogic ECX copy data management software with IBM products.

Catalogic refers to ECX as "in-place copy management," because it uses existing storage instead of keeping data on its own appliances. The agentless software uses public APIs to talk to storage and VMware hypervisors, and no data passes through ECX. Catalogic CEO Ed Walsh said that architecture makes it a good fit for working with storage arrays.

"We inventory data and catalog it," he said. "We bring up the last good snapshot. And we provide self-service for cloud data."

Catalogic Software's ECX initially worked only with NetApp arrays, but it started indexing copy data across IBM storage systems in 2015. Walsh said he intends to expand compatibility to arrays from EMC and other vendors. But Catalogic engineers have been working with IBM to take advantage of Big Blue's storage.

Walsh was an IBM executive from 2010 to 2013. Before that, he was CEO of data reduction software vendor Storwize, which IBM acquired in 2010.

As a result of the joint development, the vendors this week brought out four validated packages: ECX with Storwize arrays and SAN Volume Controller to manage data on core data center storage; ECX with IBM FlashSystem V9000, with a concentration on DevOps; ECX with IBM SoftLayer for the hybrid cloud; and ECX with IBM Spectrum Protect snapshot software.

Walsh said the hybrid cloud and DevOps are the key ways in which IBM storage users can benefit from ECX.

Catalogic Software ECX can store copies of data in SoftLayer or other clouds that customers can use for disaster recovery (DR), test and dev or rapid access. The software includes templates for self-service provisioning.

"All storage players allow you to put a copy of your data in the cloud," he said. "The real killer app is to automate the use of that compute. You spin it up for DR, spin it back down and only pay for the compute you use, which is about 15 minutes a day."

For DevOps, Catalogic ECX provides templates and management of RESTful APIs for storage administrators to enable self-service for developers to work off copies of data. DevOps teams can quickly spin up their own copies of application data for testing.

"The storage infrastructure team keeps complete control by setting up templates that control what users can see, and what they can and can't do," Walsh said. "The best way to battle shadow IT is to give developers what they need. Don't argue with them."

IBM also works closely with Catalogic Software rival Actifio, whose software embeds IBM SAN Volume Controller technology. Sam Werner, IBM's director of storage software, said Big Blue is looking to take advantage of Catalogic's work with array snapshots and its ability to migrate data into the cloud.

"We prefer to give our clients a choice," Werner said. "What we're doing with Catalogic is unique. We partner with Actifio, but for other use cases. What's unique about Catalogic is they do copies in place, and leverage core snapshot and copy data capacities in the storage subsystem.

"Leveraging Catalogic with our snapshot capabilities gives clients the ability to use copies of data in new ways."

He said the value Catalogic ECX brings to SoftLayer is the ability to replicate snapshot data to the cloud, and to manage it when it is there.

Werner said IBM customers have asked for the ability to provide self-service for developers, especially on high-performance flash arrays for applications built on Oracle, DB2 and other databases.

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