Why Snapshots of Data Are No Longer Enough

By: Joseph Evans

Businesses today are facing an explosion of new data every day. That data is coming from new applications, customers, new opportunities and more. The ideal system will be able to handle that stream of data in a clean, optimized platform that lets them capitalize on that data in real time. The pace of business is growing faster all the time and snapshots of data put companies at a disadvantage. To stay ahead of the competition, you need live reporting of data streams not just weekly or monthly snapshots.

Reporting dashboard

Why Snapshots Are Bad for Business

A virtual machine snapshot is a copy of the disk file at a given point in time. They are used to restore a VM to specific point if a failure occurs. The nature of these snapshots makes them potentially harmful to business. For example: A windows file server stores a QuickBooks database for your accounting team. A snapshot was taken at the beginning of the week and during that week Windows updated. Now it’s Friday and one of the accountants needs a backup of the QuickBooks data. The admin attempts to do a full back up and it’s taking forever and eventually freezes. What happened?

During the week several people worked on the file, changing things, creating invoices and pay checks. Data blocks were changed, but not all the blocks. Instead of the database file being on the difference disk of the VM, it’s on the main virtual hard drive too. So, the hyper-visor is coordinating all this in the background, eating up CPU and IO cycles.

Downfalls of Weekly Snapshots

Snapshots don’t exist in a vacuum; they affect everything that comes after it is created. When a snapshot is created, the original disk image is frozen in time and all write accesses after it will go to a new differential image. That new image is in the form of a change log that records every change that comes after the snapshot was created. This means the read accesses will have to read the original data plus every subsequent change made to it. It’s still possible to take another snapshot and over time the snapshot file will grow, especially when making a lot of changes to the system. Eventually the snapshot file can become bigger than the original disk. All this does is slow down the system.

Live Reporting Is the Only Way

A data streaming platform is an adjustment from traditional systems because they can meet the demands of the world in real-time. They’re designed to control massive data sets from different platforms and users then distribute them in real time. Traditional systems lack the ability to meet the needs of the modern data-driven business world. In a practical sense, real time reporting reduces wasted time, waiting for information. It reduces the need for running and printing reports because that information is always available, in an instant. A continuous data stream updates all transactions, performance data and internal changes as it goes. It gives an accurate overview of the daily operations of any business. Instead of relying on a gut feeling or experience on how the business is performing the data is instantly available for review so decisions can be made.

Live reporting feature

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