Unveils data classification software tackling structured as well as unstructured data

April 30, 2006

4 Min Read
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Scentric officially threw its hat into the data classification ring today, coming out of stealth with what it calls a universal data classification application that handles files, emails, and databases.

Data classification products let customers classify data by business value, search it for rapid retrieval, and manage it by moving it among storage devices. (See B&S: IT Pros Rethink Storage.) Although the market is young, these products are considered key pieces of compliance and ILM initiatives. [Ed. note: See our latest poll if you've got views on this emerging segment.]

After 18 months in stealth and six in beta testing, Scentric is taking a different approach than the startups that have beat it to market. Instead of concentrating on unstructured data (files), semistructured data (email), or structured data (databases), Scentric's product, named Destiny, handles all types of data from one interface.

Scentric execs also hope other features will help set Destiny on the right path: It includes pre-packaged data classification policies aimed at vertical markets such as financial services and healthcare. Destiny also tiers data automatically by metadata or content -- for example, it will move data more than six months old from tier one to tier two storage, or delete certain information after a specific date.

Scentric also claims that unlike most dedicated data classification products, Destiny is software based. Others in this market, including Kazeon, StoredIQ, and Index Engines, sell their software on appliances. Another startup, Njini, offers a classification product that is software based.To further position Scentric: Like the vendors' gear that is appliance based, Scentric's product works out of band, at or alongside the server -- while Njini's sits in the network path.

There are pros and cons to the software-only aspect of Scentric's tack, at least on paper: Scentric spokespeople say the software approach will scale better in large enterprises because customers wont have to cluster appliances. The appliance-based vendors, in contrast, say they offer their products as software if customers prefer it that way.

A key claim of Scentric's, however, is that none of the other contenders classify and search structured data in databases at this point.

“Up to now, people in this space have had point solutions,” says Scentric marketing SVP Larry Cormier (ex-CommVault Systems). “They’ve looked at just files or just email.”

“Scentric uses a significantly different architecture because it works on databases, too,” says Brad O’Neill of the Taneja Group. “The challenge for them is to hustle and make sure they can attract the right type of OEMs they need.”OEM deals are proving crucial to vendors of this type of product. For instance, Kazeon has an OEM deal with Network Appliance, and StoredIQ has a reseller deal with Google. (See Kazeon Pairs With NetApp.) Cormier says Scentric is pursuing OEM deals with storage hardware and software vendors. He says the product is in production at eight customer sites, but Scentric has not named customers or provided pricing specifics.

On the downside, Scentric's competition considers support for structured data unnecessary and perhaps detrimental to data classification. Representatives of Kazeon, StoredIQ, Index Engines, and Njini say they don't work with structured databases for a reason. Database applications include management and classification features of their own -- plus there are dedicated database management products already available. Hewlett-Packard picked up one by acquiring Outerbay earlier this year, and Princeton Softech sells a database archiving product. (See HP Hops on OuterBay.)

Also, Scentric competitors say structured and unstructured data types are so different that it’s hard for one product to handle it all effectively.

“For most customers, structured data hasn’t been a big requirement,” StoredIQ CEO Dave Davenport says. “Concentrating on that also can cause a reduction in focus.”

A storage administrator at a financial services firm that uses Kazeon's appliance agrees with that assessment. He adds that in many large organizations there is no advantage to having one product do it all, because different administrators handle file, email, and database management.“Sometimes doing one thing right is much better than trying to do many things,” says the admin, who requests anonymity for competitive reasons. “We don't have any intentions of using [data classification] for structured data, because we already know what most of it is and what we need to do to protect it. Email is handled by another group with another set of existing tools.”

The Alpharetta, Ga.-based Scentric also disclosed $10.4 million in funding and a management team that includes CEO Sanjay Sehgal and CTO Hemant Kurande, its founders. Sehgal was COO and founder of chip startup iVivity, and Kurande was founder of SRM startup Storability Software. HIG Ventures, Valhalla Partners, Imlay Investments, and Georgia Tech's

Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) are Scentric's investors.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • CommVault Systems Inc.

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • Index Engines Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • H.I.G. Ventures

  • iVivity Inc.

  • Kazeon Inc.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Njini Inc.

  • Princeton Softech Inc.

  • Scentric Inc.

  • StoredIQ Corp.

  • Taneja Group

  • Valhalla Partners

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