Scentric emerges from stealth mode

By Michele Hope

—Start-up Scentric officially emerged from stealth mode today to announce its first line of information and data management products under its flagship solution, Scentric Destiny. The Alpharetta, GA-based information classification and management (ICM) vendor has spent the past 18 months developing what it believes will up the ante among competitors in the emerging market of data classification and policy-based data movement.

Unlike competitors such as Arkivio, Kazeon, and StoredIQ, which focus predominantly on classification of unstructured (file-based) data, Larry Cormier, Scentric senior vice president of marketing, claims that Destiny is the first of its kind to extend 'universal data classification' functionality to unstructured, semi-structured (e.g., e-mail) and structured (e.g., database) data types.

Analysts give the company's move into structured data classification fairly high marks. "Scentric Destiny raises the bar in the information classification and management market with classification across all data types, enterprise-class scalability and performance, and a highly intuitive user interface," says Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst with the Taneja Group.

Similarly, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst Brian Babineau also calls the product "a comprehensive classification solution that can help users gain control over their files, e-mails, and database data and manage this information more efficiently."

Destiny is a software-based product that operates out-of-band on the data path, crawling specified areas of the network for data matching key classification criteria. The first version of the software supports Windows-based environments and data classification of Windows-based files, NAS systems, and Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server databases. A subsequent version slated for release late this year will support Linux, Unix, CIFS/NFS, and Oracle, according to Scentric officials.

Other unique differentiators of the solution, according to Scentric's Cormier, include the option to operate either agent-less, or with data movers and data catalog agents placed closer to distributed servers and branch office locations for better policy management. Cormier also emphasizes the user interface, which enables various organizational groups to classify data and set or apply policy-based actions to it.

An anticipated 85% of Scentric's first year revenue is expected to come from the company's direct sales channel. Scentric also expects to secure at least three to five resellers and one OEM deal by year-end, according to Cormier.

While detailed pricing information is not yet available, Scentric anticipates Destiny's average sales price will be in the $100,000 range, with deals falling anywhere from $50,000 to $750,000 depending on the size and scope of the deployment.

Structured data classification
In addition to supporting both content indexing and metadata indexing for structured and unstructured data, Destiny is able to discover and classify structured data at the database table level. This includes which records are associated with specific tables, how many fields and tables are in a system, how many rows are in a table, the total amount of storage, and the growth of key database components over time.

Destiny stops short of providing data movement for the data it discovers or classifies in database environments, however. "DBAs don't want us doing that," says Cormier, indicating that database administrators would rather use Destiny to discover necessary information and then make their own decisions about what to do with the data. Long term, Cormier anticipates Scentric will offer policy-based data movement functions integrated within applications that use core database systems, including applications such as Oracle Financials.

Scaling to branch offices
Beyond its support for structured data types, the first release of Destiny also includes an agent-less architecture that allows for both centralized management of classification, indices, and policies, as well as the ability to distribute agents and place catalogs directly on a distributed source server or array.

Destiny's interface simplifies the process of classifying data and defining policies for both IT and non-IT personnel. In one screen, users can query and classify data based on pre-defined and custom criteria or "rules," set up policy-based actions on the class of data Scentric returns from the query, pre-test the outcome of policy actions ahead of time, and subsequently put the policy into effect.

The software comes with approximately 80 preset rules related to tiered storage, data archiving, and compliance issues affecting vertical markets such as financial services, healthcare, media, and telecommunications.

User and user group access rights can be assigned to limit who has access to policy creation, certain data sets, and the application of policy to data.

The emerging data classification market includes a variety of start-ups. In addition, large vendors such as EMC and Network Appliance are developing or acquiring related technology, or striking OEM deals with other vendors.

Analysts note that one of the keys to Scentric's success will be how well it can integrate its product into other applications and how well it can develop partnerships or OEM relationships with other storage, archiving, and application vendors.

Michele Hope is a freelance writer specializing in storage. She can be contacted at mhope@thestoragewriter.com

This article was originally published on April 19, 2006