What exactly is data management?
Data management means different things to different people. To most, it is a term used to describe the deliberate movement of data between different data storage components during the useful life of the data itself. The rationale for such movement is often helpful in differentiating data management products from one another.
For example, data may be moved to decrease storage costs. Different storage devices may be grouped together by performance and cost characteristics to define “tiers” of storage infrastructure.
Data that is accessed and updated frequently may be best hosted in the highest performance (most costly) tiers, while data that is older and less frequently accessed or updated may be more economically hosted on less performant and less expensive tiers. A product that tracks data access and modification frequency and that moves less active data to slower tiers automatically may be termed a data management solution, though such products are more appropriately termed hierarchical storage management or HSM products.
Similarly, data may be migrated between storage devices to level or optimize the load placed on specific devices or interconnecting links. This may be done to improve overall access performance by introducing target parallelism or simply to scale overall capacity more efficiently. It may also provide a means to enable the decommissioning of certain storage products when they have reached end of life by providing a way to migrate or copy their data to alternative or newer storage with minimal operator intervention. Again, this may be termed data management, but it is actually infrastructure management or scale out architecture.
Moving or copying data between storage platforms may also be performed in order to preserve certain data assets that, while they are rarely accessed or updated, must be retained for legal, regulatory or business reasons. The target “archival” storage may comprise very low cost, very high capacity media such as tape. Technically speaking, this is an archive rather than a data management product.
Archive may be part of data management, but it is not necessarily a data management solution unto itself.
Data management is a policy-driven exercise. True data management involves the active placement of data across infrastructure based on business policy coupled to the business context and value of the data itself. While the expense of the storage target and the frequency of access and modification of the data can – and should – also serve as variables in the determination of policies for how the data should be hosted, what services the data is provided to ensure its protection, preservation and privacy, and when it should be moved or discarded, real data management considers data value, not just storage capacity and cost. Its goal is more than improving capacity allocation efficiency; data management strives to improve capacity utilization efficiency. Data management is business centric, not storage centric.
Many of the products obtained in web searches as “data management solutions” do not deliver business value centric management at all. Some are HSM, migration, or archival products simply. Others have an underlying agenda, to move data out of one architectural or topological model into another. For example, several firms are terming as data management solutions products that are intended to bridge on-premises hosted data into a cloud service model. Others are, under the covers, seeking to move file system data into object storage system models, or hard disk hosted data into solid state storage products leveraging non-volatile memory chips.
While potentially useful migratory tools, these are not necessarily what a consumer may be seeking who is trying to place data under greater business control so it can be shared more efficiently, used in analytical research more readily, or governed in accordance with the latest legal or regulatory mandate.
Following on this thread, we will look at the information gleaned from the web about vendors whose products result from a web search engine query on the term "data management." If you are a vendor or user of any of these products, please expand our research with additional information.