Njini manages unstructured data

By Heidi Biggar

In introducing the first modules in its Information Asset Management (IAM) software suite (see table), start-up Njini joins a growing list of vendors that are trying to help users not only better manage growing stockpiles of unstructured data, but also-and perhaps more importantly-extract business value from the data. Potential competitors include vendors such as Arkivio, Kazeon, and StoredIQ (see “Kazeon manages unstructured data,” InfoStor, April 2005, p. 12, and “Deepfile reinvents itself, narrows focus,” InfoStor, March 2005, p. 8).

Njini demonstrated its software at last month’s Storage World Conference.

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According to Brad O’Neill, a senior analyst with the Taneja Group consulting firm, “Njini is a new entrant in an emerging category we call ‘information classification and management’ [ICM]. Players in this space leverage proactive indexing schemes for metadata and content attributes in order to create a metadata repository, which can then be used for searching and retrieving [as well as for automating a variety of processes].”

The Taneja Group expects ICM to take off in three major areas over the next several years: compliance, security, and information life-cycle management (ILM).

The first module in the IAM suite, njiniENCOUNT, prevents unnecessary duplication of unstructured data objects. Hierarchical storage management (HSM) and compliance tools are expected in the next six to nine months. All IAM modules run on top of the njiniENGINE, which sits in the data path on dedicated Linux or Solaris server blades and automatically categorizes data objects at their point of origin based on the business value of the data.

Njini believes the fact that its software is in the data path, versus out-of-band, will be a key differentiator, allowing the company to build “proactive” software tools that are capable of taking automated policy-based actions based on information about the data as it is created, not after it reaches the storage device. The software works with any storage device.

“We have a different take on ILM,” says Phil Tee, co-founder and chief technology officer at Njini. “We look at unstructured data before it ends up on the storage to see what the content is, who’s using the data, etc.”

The core engine identifies data at its origin, indexes the metadata, categorizes the data based on its business value, and then manages changes in this value throughout the data life cycle, eventually storing data objects on the most appropriate storage tier or within an Oracle database or Exchange server, as determined by users.

Tee says it is wrong to base the value of data on its age, as many storage management software applications do today. “For example, a spreadsheet that was created six months ago could all of a sudden become very important if it is needed for a lawsuit,” says Tee.

The njiniENCOUNT module helps users reclaim storage resources and consequently drive down storage costs by minimizing the number of duplicate copies of data that are stored.

Pricing depends on the amount of data being managed; specific pricing information was not available at press time. The software is initially targeted at Fortune 1000 organizations.

This article was originally published on July 01, 2005