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IBM Taps Actifio to Add Virtual Smarts to SmartCloud

February 5, 2014

IBM’s SmartCloud has some new virtual smarts thanks to some help from Actifio. The new IBM SmartCloud Data Virtualization (SCDV) lets clients run in virtual infrastructure rather than depending on purely physical gear.

“A single, physical copy — stored wherever it makes the most sense for a given customer — can be used to create multiple virtual copies, in support of any business application. Infrastructure is collapsed as data protection and availability SLA’s are improved, resulting in compelling economic and strategic value created for the customer,” IBM explained.

InfoTechSpotlight_LogoActifio helps drive IBM SmartCloud Data Virtualization through Actifio’s Virtual Data Pipeline technology. This pipeline can manage data without the need for multiple copies. “Clients can reclaim production storage capacity, improve data center utilization, and quickly recover critical servers, resulting in a dramatically lower total cost of ownership than can be achieved through traditional means,” the partners said.

Part of this involves cloud-based data recovery, and here the pair claim shops can be back up and running in mere minutes, in part thanks to point-in-time snapshots.

How Does Actifio Work?

Actifio has a radical approach to storage and data access, one customers are starting to latch onto.

The storage technology is actually called copy data storage. So what is it all about? “Copy data, meaning the data created by all the business systems that make a copy of everything in production. Think backup, snapshot, disaster recovery, business continuity, test and development, analytics, information sharing, even compliance,” Actifio explained.

Today more and more data is being produced, and more and more copies of all this data are being made, adding up to an expensive storage nightmare and sometimes trouble finding the data you need when you need it.

Enter Actifio’s Protection and Availability Storage (PAS) tool. This server cluster and software combo is designed to replace all your copy data tools with a system that works as an appliance.

Actifio’s approach is ambitious. It uses storage virtualization to turn an enterprise’s silos of data into a pool, “a single system that’s purpose-built to manage copy data.”

The system takes a company’s production data, makes a copy, and then includes all the changes to the data made subsequently. It makes “virtual point-in-time copies of data on-demand,” and integrates data deduplication, network and processor utilization optimization. This way the data is always and fresh and the recovery fast and accurate.

With it, one can replace an array of storage systems; snapshot technology, your existing backup, and business continuity and disaster recovery tools.


Actifio isn’t your typical storage startup, but has a knack for attracting press attention and venture capital. On the cash side, the company recently raised another $50 million, bringing the funding total to $107.5 million on the button. The company claims its market value is around a half a billion dollars.

And influential business pub Forbes has caught Actifio fever, choosing it as one of America’s Most Promising Companies for 2013.

Actifio sees a need for its wares, pointing to IDC research showing that 60 percent of the data held on disks is actually copies of something else. Meanwhile Gartner argues that Actifio can indeed “perform a host of functions, including backup, archiving, replication and creation of test data using a minimal number of copies.”

Bryant University Teaches its Copy Data a Lesson

Bryant University in Massachusetts is putting Actifio through its paces, and plans to ditch its existing SAN-to-SAN data replication system.

“Technology is an invaluable learning tool at the university, which means that I need to plan for maximum uptime and availability. In the past this meant frequent data protection and business resiliency testing that required planning, application downtime and costly excess infrastructure which ultimately impacted our users,” said Rich Siedzik, senior IT director, Bryant University.

“That was before Actifio. Now we can run a Failover Test non-disruptively, as often as we need to. And if there’s a site failure, I can easily and automatically sync back our unique data. That gives more peace of mind, from a solution that costs us dramatically less than the system we were using before.”