Tag Archives: virtualization

Search as a Desktop Virtualization Enabler

Desktop_virtualizationby Barry Murphy

 

Too often, search is taken for granted.  When I first started doing research on eDiscovery in the cloud, the prevailing attitude was, “as long as information is searchable, eDiscovery is taken care of.”  Sadly, many organizations have learned the hard way that it is not that easy.  There is much more to search than meets the eye.  But, most organizations do not figure that out until it is too late – until search does not work in the desired manner or at the required speed.

eDiscovery is not the only area where search is overlooked and becomes an issue.  In fact, search is a critical function for today’s knowledge worker.  Despite the importance of information access, unified search of workers’ most critical assets (email, files, desktop content, and SharePoint) is not always a huge requirement of IT organizations.  It is to end-users, however, and that is one of the reasons that X1 has had such success with the Search 8 product – it has a user-friendly interface that provides simple, fast access to the information assets users need the most.

The lesson that I have taken away from being involved in the search market is that search as a standalone application may not seem sexy, but it provides a real return on investment.  It also allows organizations to ensure that investments in other technologies are optimized.  This fact can be seen especially in virtual desktop (VDI) environments.  Desktop virtualization promises many benefits: lower IT costs; streamlined administration of IT assets; and end-user flexibility in terms of accessing the desktop from anywhere.  Given the popularity of BYOD, the consumerization of IT, and the need for mobility to support telecommuting, VDI is becoming more and more important.

It is the little details of IT projects, however, that can have big impact on results.  Some organizations find that the cost savings anticipated from VDI are less than expected because of high disk resources necessary to support Windows indexing on the virtual desktop.  Or, best practice is followed and Windows indexing is turned off – and then users are unable to search for information on their desktops.  There are two possible outcomes from this, and both are bad:  either users are rendered unproductive because they cannot easily find information or they simply reject the virtual desktop and find ways around the system.

In order to ensure that VDI deployments meet expectations, organizations can build unified search into requirements early on.  At the very least, this will help to ensure that end-users are more receptive to the virtual desktop and allow them to remain productive.  Getting end-users to buy in is often half the battle when deploying new technology.  As I mentioned, though, search is often an afterthought – an issue that only comes up after a VDI deployment where end-users complain or reject the solution outright.  That is why it is important to make search a requirement early on.

When it comes to VDI environments, a good search solution must decouple the search UI from the indexing service.  Otherwise, indexing will require virtual desktop computing resources and cut into VDI cost savings.  The goal is to minimize the RAM usage and search client footprint on the virtual desktop.   It sounds simple, but traditional search solutions are not architected for this.  We at X1 are doing a webinar with Citrix on this very issue – enabling lightning-fast search in VDI environments.  The webinar is on April 10, 2014 at 1pm ET / 10am PT.  Please click here if you would like to join us to learn how to use search to enable optimization of desktop virtualization deployments.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise eDiscovery, Information Access

Defining Truly Cloud-Capable eDiscovery Software

Last week we discussed the challenges of searching and collecting data in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud deployments (such as the Amazon cloud or Rackspace) for eDiscovery purposes.  Today we discuss what is needed for eDiscovery and enterprise search vendors to provide a truly cloud-capable solution and provide a decoder ring of sorts to cut through the hype.  For there is a lot of hype with the cloud becoming the latest eDiscovery hot button, with vendor marketing claims far surpassing actual capabilities.

In fact, many eDiscovery and enterprise software vendors claim to support the cloud, but are simply re-branding their long-existing SaaS offerings, which really has nothing to do with supporting IaaS. Barry Murphy of the eDiscovery Journal aptly identified this marketing practice as “cloud washing.” Data hosting, especially where the vendor’s manual labor is routinely required to upload and process data, does not meet defined cloud standards. Neither does a process that primarily exports data through APIs or other means out of its resident cloud environment to slowly migrate the cloud data to the vendor tools, instead of deploying the tools (and their processing power) to the data where it resides in the cloud. In order to truly support IaaS cloud deployments, eDiscovery and enterprise search software must meet the following three core requirements:

1.         Automated installation and virtualization:  The eDiscovery and search solution must immediately and rapidly install, execute and efficiently operate in a virtualized environment without rigid hardware requirements or on-site physical access. This is impossible if the solution is fused to hardware appliances or otherwise requires a complex on-site installation process. As hardware appliance solutions by definition are not cloud deployable and with enterprise search installations often requiring many months of man hours to install and configure, whether many of these vendors will be able to support robust IaaS cloud deployments in the reasonably foreseeable future is a significant question.

2.         On-demand self-service: In its definition of cloud computing, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) identifies on- demand self-service as an essential characteristic of the cloud where a “consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.”

Many hosted eDiscovery services require shipping of data to the provider or extensive behind the scenes manual labor to load and configure the systems for data ingestion. Conversely, solutions that truly support cloud IaaS will spin up, ingest data and fully operate in an automated fashion without the need for manual on-premise labor for configuration or data import.

3.         Rapid elasticity: NIST describes this characteristic as capabilities that “scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time.” This important benefit of cloud computing is accomplished by a parallelized software architecture designed to dynamically scale out over potentially several dozen virtualized servers to enable rapid ingestion, processing and analysis of data sets in that cloud environment. This capability would allow several terabytes of data to be indexed and processed within 2 to 4 hours on a highly automated basis at far less cost than non-cloud eDiscovery efforts.

However, many characteristics of leading eDiscovery solutions fundamentality prevent their ability to support this core cloud requirement. Most eDiscovery early case assessment solutions are developed and configured toward a monolithic processing schema designed to operate on a single expensive hardware apparatus. While recently spawning some bold marketing claims of high speeds and feeds, such architecture is very ill-suited to the cloud, which is powered by highly distributed processing across multitudes of servers. Additionally, many of the leading eDiscovery and enterprise search solutions are tightly integrated with third party databases and other OEM technology that cannot be easily decoupled (and also present possible licensing constraints) making such elasticity physically and even legally impossible.

So is there eDiscovery software that will truly support the IaaS cloud based upon these requirements, and address up to terabytes of data?  Stay tuned….

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Filed under Cloud Data, Enterprise eDiscovery, IaaS