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Cohesity plans to put backup data to good use

Cohesity’s DataPlatform now makes use of previously dormant backup data with analytics to provide business value and to tackle threats such as ransomware

Could the data contained in backups be put to good use, rather than vegetating while it waits for some hypothetical restore sometime in the future?

That’s the idea behind functionality implemented by Cohesity in the latest version of its scale-out backup DataPlatform, 6.3, which was released in February.

“The problem with backups is that they occupy capacity while being accessed only rarely when it’s necessary to restore a file, for example,” said Christophe Lambert, technical director for Cohesity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

“So, we’ve come up with a software development kit [SDK] for customers and partners that can exploit metadata on data that is effectively dormant in our backup storage, rather than affecting data in production environments.”

According to Lamber, the idea was put forward by a Cohesity customer that wanted to analyse its video surveillance archives without affecting production servers that are busy recording and moving lots of video streams.

Splunk probes, GDPR compliance and anti-ransomware

The first steps down this road address key current concerns, with software that can be downloaded free-of-charge by customers from the Cohesity marketplace.

These are: anti-virus software that detects and eliminates ransomware in backups; a Splunk analytics agent; Imanis Data, which creates backups readable by NoSQL analytics databases; and Cohesity Spotlight and Insight, which verify that rights of access and backup contents are compliant with GDPR.

Meanwhile, Easyscript allows developers to create Python scripts that allow Cohesity metadata to interface with system administration software via an SDK that can build applications.

“Early indications suggest that our customers are using this new functionality to generate reports for use at CIO level, that span a number of silos, which is possible because our solutions can consolidate a number of backups,” said Lambert.

Scale-out storage for cold data

Cohesity was launched in 2013 by Mohit Aron, the former co-founder of Nutanix, who was also involved the creation of Google File System. Cohesity could be likened to an Isilon for secondary storage, and puts more emphasis on capacity than performance.

As with Isilon’s OneFS file system, Cohesity’s SpanFS distributes storage across several nodes, ensures redundancy of data, indexes data by means of metadata and shares it across the network, NAS-style.

SpanFS is not limited to physical nodes and can integrate its capacity with the cloud. It has replication functionality that allows it to continue activity from a remote site or the cloud in case of an incident. In addition to NFS and SMB access, it can share data via the object storage S3 protocol, that is widely used for cloud applications.

SpanFS is part of Cohesity’s DataPlatform, which in part comprises access to admin functionality, including configuration, deduplication, replication, monitoring. Also among these is SnapTree, which allows use of cloned content to, for example, run project tests with real data.

DataPlatform software can come on hardware from HPE, Dell or Cisco as appliances or in virtual appliance format. As an option, the Helios SaaS console allows the centralisation of administration for multiple DataPlatform clusters across a number of cloud sites.

Even though a DataPlatform cluster is capable of all the functions of a NAS platform, the scalability of the solution, allied with an absence of efforts towards high performance have tended to see it used as a target for other vendors’ backup software, such as Veeam and Veritas.

That is despite Cohesity having its own backup software, DataProtect, like its competitor Rubrik, which also sells scale-out storage focussed on backup.

Cohesity is a private company and so it is difficult to determine its financial health. Sources external to it indicate that 50% of its activity is in Europe where it has around 100 large accounts. The UK and Germany are its largest markets, with France in third place.

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