The recently introduced MySnapshot, from utility storage vendor 3PARdata Inc. of Fremont, Calif., gives non-storage professionals the ability to quickly access copies of their own test data instead of depending on busy storage administrators who often cant fulfill requests quickly enough to satisfy corporate deadlines for the required information.
Company executives decided to create MySnapshot, which was built on the companys 3PAR Virtual Copy copy-on-write snapshot technology, after teaming up with a large financial services customer whose DBAs and software developers experienced similar problems.
"Their situation was similar to that of other very large enterprises. They had very few storage IT guys and a lot of software developers and DBAs who needed access to test data to get their projects done," said Craig Nunes, 3PARs vice president of marketing.
"When something occurs that deletes or destroys that test data, they need to refresh it quickly," Nunes said.
Having fast access to test data is particularly important from a productivity perspective, noted Randy Kerns, a partner for Storage Area Network and Network-Attached Storage Analysis at Evaluator Group of Greenwood Village, Colo.
"If I can grab test data, run a test, do something wrong and grab it again, the speed with which I can do all of that can make me more productive in my job," he said. "If I have to wait to go through an administrator each time, it could delay things so much that I might look for other ways to do things."
In traditional storage platforms, storage infrastructures are simply too complex and security too difficult to control for anyone other than storage professionals to access critical data. Those problems have been resolved with MySnapshot, Nunes said.
"Even just making a copy of data on a traditional storage platform—if you knew what you were doing—could take an hour," Nunes said. With MySnapshot, the test data is unmounted from the application server and a new copy made and mounted to the developers server in seconds. And because the entire process is automated, there is no chance of making a mistake.
To address security concerns, 3PAR has incorporated an access control list within MySnapshot that allows storage administrators to name individual users and assign a variety of permissions to each user.
"The particular user named in the access control list can make and delete copies only of the specific copy of test data," Nunes explained. "We really shrank the scope of permissions so production data is kept secure. Even a copy of test data that might be shared among many developers is kept secure."
3PAR is the first storage company to provide snapshot access to non-storage professionals, but Kerns believes its not the last. Even being able to do certain file-level restores from backups instead of having administrators do it will become more common, he predicts.
"Its a trend to start to push these things out with a degree of protection," he said. "There is so much data now, and the IT operations arent being allowed to hire more people, so they have to figure out a better way to do these things."