Likewise Pitches Smarter Data Management

By Kenneth Corbin

There is a tired management maxim that counsels employees to work smarter, not harder. In the storage world, an analogy might be to urge IT buyers to spend smarter, not necessarily more, as they grapple with a staggering rise in the volume of business data.

Among those trumpeting the message that companies shouldn't aim simply to spend their way out of the storage crunch is Likewise, a seven-year-old firm specializing in storage management software geared for mixed-network environments.

"The fact is, we all have to get much smarter about the data we have. Just throwing more disks at the problem won't solve it," said Ken Cheney, vice president of sales and marketing at Likewise.

Likewise Storage Services

Likewise organizes its product portfolio into the OEM and enterprise categories. On the OEM side, which was the company's first target market, Likewise offers the Storage Services platform to provide secure, multi-protocol access to files housed in storage environments built on Unix or Linux. Likewise counts heavyweights, such as EMC and HP, among its OEM clients.

Part of Likewise's pitch to OEMs is a unified platform that includes a modular code base consisting of numerous publicly available APIs that can be tapped to build a variety of storage solutions, ranging from cloud deployments to traditional NAS devices or other network-oriented applications.

The Likewise Storage Services product provides support for the Server Message Block/Common Internet File System (SMB/CIFS) protocol, as well as the Network File System (NFS) and HTTP/REST protocols.

Likewise Data Analytics and Governance

Although Likewise cut its teeth in the OEM space, last month it dived into the enterprise software market with the public beta launch of its Data Analytics and Governance application, offering insights into the proliferating volume of unstructured data.

"A growing area of interest in enterprises is to better understand unstructured data to drive more value from it," Cheney said.

"Most enterprises have significantly under-invested in the management capabilities needed to deal with the explosive growth in unstructured data," he added. "Traditional approaches treat data as a bucket of bits with little insight into the value of the stored data to the enterprise."

Through a set of automated best practices, the enterprise product aims to address pain points associated with unstructured data spread across heterogeneous environments (such as security, auditing and compliance) by adding identity and other contextual metadata to the storage pools.

"The problem with unstructured data has grown exponentially over time. It can seem insurmountable, but companies must get their arms around the sensitive data contained in these files," Ginny Roth, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group, said in a statement. "Without the ability to have some glimpse into this data in the wild, companies will be increasingly vulnerable to high profile breaches."

Likewise estimates that 40 percent of unstructured data falls into a category that would be considered sensitive. At the same time, just 14 percent of organizations have a plan in place to manage that data. The Data Analytics and Governance application, for which pricing begins at $18,000, generates compliance reports for HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, FISMA and other security and auditing benchmarks.

Cheney said that he has heard from IT executives who are commonly dealing with a data-volume curve that has been rising on the order of 400 percent to 800 percent annually, with no sign of leveling off. That rise has been driven by a confluence of factors, including but, certainly not limited to, cloud computing and virtualization technologies, as well as the spread of new devices and social media tools within the enterprise.

That has created a storage headache for many businesses, which are now commonly spending upwards of half of their IT budget on storage, according to Cheney, who sees a market opportunity for Likewise in helping enterprises trim that hefty line item.

"Even as storage hardware plummets in cost, and tools like compression, deduplication and data-tiering become more advanced, storage costs are still consuming a disproportional amount of an organizations IT budget," he said.

Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here

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This article was originally published on January 10, 2012