Category Archives: Cloud Data

Seeing The Full Picture On Hybrid Cloud

If it seems that a lot has been written about hybrid cloud lately, that’s because there has – it is one of the hottest topics in the technology world, if not the hottest.  hybrid cloudThe hybrid cloud is a combination of a private IT infrastructure and a public cloud.  The public and private cloud infrastructures then communicate over an encrypted connection and can port data and applications back and forth.  Hybrid cloud is hot because it delivers real benefits:  increased speed of access time and reduced latency because of an on-premise, private infrastructure that is accessible directly as opposed to through the internet; more flexibility to have on-premises infrastructure that can support the average workload and to leverage the public cloud when the workload exceeds the power of the private cloud component; and more flexibility in server designs that can lower the costs of storage.

These benefits (there are many more, but the list would be too long) have IT departments excited to leverage hybrid cloud.  As organizations gain experience with hybrid cloud, we are seeing more and more written about it.  Most of what is written focuses on the hard-core IT issues.  Industry blogs often dig deep in the ability to port applications from on-premise to the cloud and back without requiring re-architecting the apps or hitting major bumps in the workload function.  Or, they might be about the ability to migrate server workloads to the cloud.  This is clearly important stuff, but it is only painting half the picture.   No one is talking much about where the information feeding these applications lives, or about how to ensure the information is accessible as needed.

This is why we need to see the full picture on hybrid cloud.  The reality is the information will live all over the place and business workers will need unified access to it, without having to know the location.   We should be talking about hybrid search equally as much as we talk about the other issues related to hybrid cloud. This is because end-user search experience is extremely important to executing successful IT projects.  We have seen this up-close-and-in-person in the VDI market.  Many organizations rolled out virtual desktops to employees and followed the best practice of turning off Windows indexing.  When users went to search for their information, they were unable to do so and revolted.  That is a lose-lose scenario.  The solution, in that case, is X1 Search Virtual Edition – the only search solution that is architected specifically for VDI environments.

The lesson from VDI is simple:  do not forget the business workers that will need to do their jobs (which tends to require finding their important emails and files quickly and efficiently).   Products like X1 Rapid Discovery enable hybrid search that lets IT glean all the benefits of hybrid cloud while ensuring end-users are happy with their ability to find information.  If we learn from that lesson as we venture into the hybrid cloud, we can avoid the nightmares that come when users are less than thrilled with the solutions IT rolls out to them.  If we think about hybrid search now, IT departments embracing hybrid cloud can be heroes to the C-Level executives tracking performance and to the business workers they serve.

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Hybrid Search, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management, Virtualized Environment

Get Ready for Hybrid Search

by Barry Murphy

In the tech world, everyone is on the lookout for the next big thing.  Everyone wants to be at the edge of innovation.  In my role here at X1, I talk to our partner ecosystem about myriad issues and topics, constantly taking the temperature of the market.  A lot of topics have good traction right now:

  • There is huge interest in the Social Discovery product and that business continues to grow.  In fact, I would argue that social media discovery is the most exciting topic in the eDiscovery world and generating far more business and activity than any other segment of the market.
  • Customers deploying virtual desktop (VDI) environments are excited by the Search 8 Virtual Edition, which allows them to provide great search experiences for business workers while also disabling Windows indexing (a best practice in desktop virtualization in order to conserve virtual resources).
  • With the growth of the Cloud and more and more enterprises storing active data in Cloud-based repositories, the ability to search data in the cloud is a hot topic.  But, as I wrote about previously, cloud search is not necessarily as simple as just creating a connector.  We continue to see X1’s ability to deploy in the cloud as a driving force behind deals.

No topic, however, turns as many heads as hybrid search.  When I talk to people about our product set, heads nod and they see the value.  After a few minutes, the “aha moment” occurs.  I don’t even have to say the term – my conversation partner will say to me, “wait, so you can enable search across both on-premise and cloud environments…you can do hybrid search.”  It feels to me like hybrid search is one of those “next big things.”  To have so many diverse people, from different business sectors really dig in to a conversation on hybrid search gives me all the proof I need to know that we are on to something here.

Take a look at the following screenshot.  The beauty lies in the simplicity – one single pane of glass to a business worker’s most critical information assets.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

No need to switch around between applications.  No need to search Outlook for email, then log into Box to search for files stored there.  It is a single interface to search for information, no matter where it lives.  And that kind of interface fits the workflow of business workers.  That drives tremendous value – that is why everyone gets the importance of hybrid search, and why it is the next big thing as far as I am concerned.

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search, Social Media Investigations

SharePoint Search: Beyond eDiscovery

by Barry Murphy

I had the pleasure of conducting a SharePoint eDiscovery webinar with Patrick Burke of Reed Smith for the OLP last week.  The subject is fascinating because finding, preserving, and reviewing SharePoint content in the litigation/investigation context can be so challenging.  The metadata users add to content (e.g. workflow tasks), the web page interface that creates more native ESI than just a document, and the decentralization of SharePoint deployments make eDiscovery for SharePoint a topic unto itself.  Often lost in this topic is the issue of end-user search of SharePoint.

When I talk about end-user search in SharePoint, most people just assume that the search functionality baked in to the product (Microsoft acquired FAST Search & Transfer several years back) is enough.  In some cases, that will be correct, but in others it does not work to give business users efficient access to information.  Some companies have standardized on SharePoint as an enterprise content management (ECM) platform while others have some departments that use SharePoint for sharing files and managing specific business processes.  In either situation, the reality is that business workers store information in multiple places – SharePoint, email, network file shares, etc.  To find that information is often a frustrating task of switching from application to application only to have a subpar search experience.

Consider the screenshot below of a search experience in SharePoint:

SharePoint blog 1

Click to enlarge

The experience leaves something to be desired in that I have to execute several more clicks on the left to do any kind of filtering and, in the result set itself, it is very difficult to know if any of these are the document I am looking for because I can’t see the document itself.  I would need to open it first.  In addition, as a business worker, I probably don’t know if I should be looking in email, file shares, or SharePoint for the document I need.  I know I saw it somewhere, but can’t remember where.  In this search experience, if I don’t find what I am looking for in SharePoint, I now have to go search my email and then my file system.  It adds up to a waste of time.

Now, consider a unified, single-pane-of-glass approach:

SharePoint blog 2

Click to enlarge

In this user interface, I can search across email, files, and SharePoint.  I can see a full-fidelity preview of the attachment.  I can refine on any kind of metadata.  It is a positive search experience that is helpful and allows me to be efficient.  More and more people realize now that this unified access to information is critically important. That may be why SharePoint guru Joel Oleson said, after a X1 Search 8 product demo, “the great news is seeing unified search across the variety of platforms [email, file shares, SharePoint] in a single powerful desktop product priced very reasonably.”  It’s because business workers really do need that unified interface across all information.  To be forced to move from email to SharePoint just to run a search can be frustrating and time consuming.  For SharePoint administrators, not having to worry about a user’s search experience in SharePoint is liberating.  When business workers and IT administrators are both happy, the world is a better place.

Read Joel Oleson’s complete review of X1 Search 8 here >

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Enterprise eDiscovery, Enterprise Search, SharePoint, Uncategorized

As Desktop-as-a-Service Gains Traction, Do Not Overlook Productivity Search

by Barry Murphy

Oftentimes, federal government agency IT departments are technology early adopters because of mandates to cut costs and increase efficiencies and business agility. It is not surprising, then, to see FCW.com pointing out that agencies are embracing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Benefits of VDI include simpler and more automated systems administration, better control over security (always a big factor for government agencies), and lower costs for client-side support. Those “hard” benefits are only part of the story – VDI also enables worker mobility (especially important to the Department of Energy) and helps enable more “green IT.” Because VDI provides a zero client environment, it can reduce the required power consumption per desktop, thereby reducing the environmental impact of the agency’s IT systems. This is perhaps more of a soft benefit, but a necessary one nonetheless.

As the FCW article states, there are now two options for deploying VDI: on-premise and through the Cloud, as Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS). There are good market options in both directions, with on-premise providers like Citrix and VMWare, and DaaS providers such as Amazon (with its Workspaces offering) and the aforementioned VMWare (with its Horizon offering). Whichever direction an organization chooses for its VDI, it is critical to remember that business worker adoption and acceptance is the key to ROI. In my experience, one thing that scares business workers when moving to VDI is the potential loss of easy access to their information assets. With VDI, it is a best practice to turn off Windows indexing, and that can leave a business worker without the ability to search for his or her information.

DaaS

With VDI in the Cloud, the DaaS provider will want to manage virtual computing resources diligently – also meaning that desktop indexing will likely be turned off. And with government agencies increasingly storing information in the Cloud, it can make search of that data a challenge. There is an opportunity to ensure a better business worker transition in these environments – build in productivity search requirements up front. Business worker access to information is an important component of easing any kind of end-user angst when transitioning to a new desktop environment. Providing these workers with unified access to common information like email, files, and SharePoint will help with change management and user acceptance. And it is important to stress again – without the end-users, there is no ROI on these VDI projects. Therefore, the upfront productivity search requirements should include a search solution that supports VDI environments and that is deployable in the Cloud, like X1 Rapid Discovery.

The move is on to VDI in the federal government, and industries like financial services and professional services are also in the midst of VDI roll-outs. These early adopters will set the trend of many industries. If the early adopters require excellent business worker productivity search experiences, acceptance of these new technologies will be much smoother and more successful. And that is good for everyone – VDI vendors and customers.

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Filed under Best Practices, Cloud Data, Corporations, Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, IaaS, Information Access, Information Management, Records Management, Virtualized Environment

Cloud Search Is Important, But Only A Piece Of The Enterprise Search Puzzle

by Barry Murphy

In an earlier post, I described the importance of having the ability to quickly search for information stored in the Cloud.  The post pointed out that Cloud search is somewhat more complicated than one might think at first glance because the speed of search is affected by how close the index lives to the actual data in the Cloud infrastructure.  One comment I received was that Cloud search can be fast and simple if the Cloud vendor promises a certain service level for query times and results.  That can address part of the issue around search (although IaaS providers – what we are truly talking about when we say “Cloud” – are typically not interested in guaranteeing SLAs for things like search because they allow customers to provision their infrastructure set to enable fast search with products like X1 Rapid Discovery).  Even if a Cloud vendor were to guarantee phenomenal search SLAs, the issue of unified enterprise search of all information still remains.

The reality is that enterprises and government agencies store information in “hybrid” environments that encompass on-premise systems within corporate data centers, virtualized systems that companies operate, and Cloud-based repositories.  Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of mainstream enterprises will have a hybrid cloud.  And, research from NetApp shows that organizations will be managing data across multiple cloud environments, not just a single provider, per se.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

These are exciting developments.  As organizations embrace more modern infrastructures, there are many benefits to be had.  What we need to remember, however, is that business professionals still need to quickly find and take action on their information assets to do their jobs.  As that information gets further scattered, enterprise search will take on increased importance.  Workers don’t care if their data is stored on-premise or in the Cloud as long as they can quickly find it in an easy-to-use interface.

The challenge for today’s organizations is that information now lives in multiple infrastructures – on-premise, virtual, Cloud, or most frequently, a hybrid of all of these.  Current approaches to including Cloud-based data in enterprise search and eDiscovery require downloading a copy of the data to search so that it resides alongside other local content.  Unfortunately, that defeats the purpose of storing the data in the Cloud in the first place.

This takes me back to my original point:  Cloud search is very important.  But, Cloud search cannot simply exist in a vacuum.  An effective enterprise search solution will combine on-premise search capabilities that can talk to search in the Cloud – without requiring downloading the cloud-based information in order to search across all data.

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Filed under Cloud Data, Enterprise Search