How a Retailer Tames a Jungle Full of Data

By Ariella Brown Print this article Print
Taming structured and unstructured data

Jungle Jim's International Market, a food market based on a jungle theme, has to deal with a different kind of jungle—one of structured and unstructured data.

Will Bradshaw, the IT manager at Jungle Jim's International Market, explained that they have two areas of data concern: securing employee information in the human resources department and making sure that they retain best practices set by the PCI DSS ( Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards). He found a solution to both issues, as well as the answer to their data storage needs, with two DataGravity DG1100 arrays, each of which holds 18 terabytes.

To sell Jungle Jim's managers on the system, Bradshaw demonstrated how easy it would be to use, as it can even work with an iPad. He pitched the array as a software package that includes four times the storage they had. The way he presented the system was as "intelligence with the storage on top as a bonus."

Fortunately, Jungle Jim's managers didn't need too much persuasion, Bradshaw recalls. "It's not hard to sell a product that does everything you need and cuts the fat on the stuff you don't need," he points out.

Since the product combines data storage with real-time data awareness, security and governance, Jungle Jim's administrators are alerted about a potential problem as soon as it occurs—not just when they conduct a full audit. The system is designed to note the appearance of confidential or sensitive information, such as social security numbers and credit card information, even when it is buried in a mass of unstructured data. It also monitors all user activity to alert the administrator of unauthorized or suspicious updates or deletions.

With respect to the HR information, Bradshaw says, "The product helps us know whether data is where it should or should not be." It ascertains that the information is saved in a secure location and encrypted.

The company has about 400 users in two locations, and the system can reassure them that only those who are supposed to have access actually do. IT tracks any access, movement or modification of files, so the managers would be alerted to anything irregular that might signal a data breach.

The system also works to protect consumer data according to best practices and compliance regulations. Bradshaw reports that about 80 percent of Jungle Jim's customers use a credit card for payment. They can do so with full confidence because the system ascertains that the point-of-sale units do not keep any sensitive cardholder data, as prescribed by PCI DSS., "This checks off a ton of checkmarks on the compliance," he adds.

Experienced a Marked Increase in Efficiency

Jungle Jim has had DataGravity in production since October 2015. Bradshaw says they first implemented it for data that was not mission-critical. When it proved itself, the company put everything in the storage system at the beginning of 2016. There's been a marked increase in efficiency as a result.

Before implementing this platform, if Bradshaw wanted to check on data movement, he had to log in. Even then, he could get only a snapshot in time and had to leverage a lot of other products for additional history and analytics. To be sure of reliability, he also needed a professional service to check on the complex data storage systems he had in place.

Now the system's users have the ability to do audits in real time whenever they want. The searches are nearly instantaneous, as the data is already collected. As a result, they are seeing 4.5 times better performance than with the prior system.

In addition to being pleased with what the system does for the business, Bradshaw also likes the possibility for improvements down the line in terms of advanced storage encryption, security analytics and style data integrated with the storage array.

Ultimately, though, it was the simplicity of DataGravity that really sold Bradshaw, who said that it came with "a lot of preset policies out of the box that could be enabled in a vanilla install if you wanted."

The various users tweaked the system according to their own needs and preferences, with customer support guiding them through adjustments. It has proven comprehensive, easy to use and, most important, reliable. The platform doesn't rely on plug-ins, so "it's very smooth," he observed.

Bradshaw says the physical setup is also sleeker, as he doesn't need 25 cables snaking off the back. He's much happier to have to deal with only four cables for easier troubleshooting. Finally, he reports that this array is easier to work with than anything he's had to manage in the past.

This article was originally published on 2016-03-15

As a technology writer, Ariella Brown, a Baseline contributor, has covered 3D printing, analytics, big data, digital currency, cloud computing, green technology, marketing and social media.

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