The Data Management Institute was originally formed by Jon Toigo and Toigo Partners International to address a perceived need for professional recognition of the discipline of data management. Some 14 years later, the titles "Data Scientist" and "Data Manager" have begun to enter common parlance, but the meaning of the job title still remains blurry in many cases.
The Data Management Institute seeks to provide the knowledge and skills required by anyone who is tasked with managing, storing, protecting or preserving an organization's most irreplaceable non-human asset: its data.
The Data Management Institute is organized into communities, with cognitive data management as the overarching or umbrella discipline. Other communities are deep dives into various aspects of data management, including archiving, data security and data protection/backup/disaster recovery. We refer to these simply as protection, privacy and preservation.
Over time, we have seen a need to develop two additional communities. One is our C-4 Strategist community, dedicated to helping IT folk learn to interact with and persuade non-technical business managers. This is a practical requirement for data management since, as the saying goes, "No bucks, no Buck Rogers." Your organization's business managers may not understand technology, but they do understand business value framed as cost-containment, risk reduction and improved productivity. This community provides a peer meetup for those seeking advice for making the case for data management and other initiatives.
One other community is dedicated to storage technology and storage management. DMI formed this community for two basic reasons. For one, our members need non-propagandized information about storage technologies that they must use to host the data that they are managing -- architecture, not marketecture. Secondly, we noted that some important storage knowledge was being omitted from the training that many novice IT operatives were obtaining from vendors of hypervisor software. We wanted to correct that deficit by offering advice and guidance in a peer-reviewed and peer-guided manner.
So, join up and participate in the community blogs. Registration is required to comment and interact, but not to read.
Part of job when defining data management as a profession is to delineate the tasks and responsibilities of data managers and the skills and knowledge prerequisites for doing the work. We did some fairly intensive analysis of the roles of data managers when we began developing our training and certification programs, so we are intent on sharing them on this portal...and soliciting your input so we can refine our definitions.
At the end of the day, we want to come up with the job description that will identify a data manager's strengths, capabilities and potential contributions so that a staffing manager will know exactly what they are getting by hiring one.
The Data Management Institute has a love/hate relationship with the vendor community. Ideally, vendors provide products and services that perform as advertised and that advance automation and digital information processing, transport and storage to the next level. When they do, we are their biggest cheerleaders. After all, we are all geeks at heart and we like new capabilities.
But, we also aspire to be scientists, prizing reliability and predictability and efficiency in the systems, networks and storage that we deploy and use. We want reassurances that the products and services we are being offered will actually deliver performance approximating the claims in the vendor brochure. If they do not, the blame falls on IT's shoulders.
The Data Management Institute prides itself on providing a location where members can speak freely about the capabilities -- and the shortcomings -- of the tech hardware and software products, and the services, that they are using. We figure that member experiences in deploying and operating technology is a more reliable source of information than are all of the vendor marketing brochures or paid analyst opinions of the benefits that can be realized from the product or service. So, we like energetic experience-based exchanges between members.
Of course, we acknowledge the provisions that some vendors have inserted into their license agreements, prohibiting their customers from speaking publicly about the vendor's product or service or risk losing warranty or maintenance support. The vendors claim that this is done to prevent false allegations from being disseminated, whether by competitors masquerading as customers or from customers who are not using products correctly. These concerns are not without merit, but the remedy, in our view, is to create a space where fruitful conversations can be held that include vendors and consumers. The Data Management Institute will allow members to comment with anonymity, if preferred -- but only when the member's bona fides have been confirmed (that is, that they are actually a user of the product or service they are reviewing and not a representative of a competing vendor). Robert Burns was right in 1786 when he wrote, "O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us!" (Benefits of a Liberal Arts education!)
We ask for civility in our discussions of platforms, but honesty and truthful reporting is also highly prized.
Some might wonder whether the amount of attention paid to cognitive computing by the Data Management Institute might reflect a bit of "fashion following." Every vendor on the planet, it seems, has begun to speak in terms of artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, etc. as sort of a proof of the "hip and coolness" of their product or service. At DMI, it is exactly the opposite. Trendy fixations on the latest technology are avoided. We prefer to expose the claims of technology innovators to the harsh scrutiny of realism. We continue to decry the false claims and exaggerations of advocates of server virtualization, clouds and NVMe, just to pick a few. We prefer to focus on the real world performance of technologies and on the real, measurable, business value of innovations.
Cognitive computing, however, must be enlisted in the task of data management going forward. There is simply too much data to manage manually today, using the same inefficient tools we have used for the past four decades. Cognitive computing will be required to coordinate and correlate the status of data and policies governing its management (hosting, service provisioning, retention and deletion), the status of storage resources including links, systems and media, and the status of storage service brokers within the infrastructure. With growth in the hundreds of zettabytes by 2024, data management presents a practical Internet of Things challenge, and one that should have a higher priority than self-driving automobiles or automated supply or provenance chains. Without the management of data, those other IoT endeavors are pretty pointless.
So, yes, the Data Management Institute's training courses, its community conversations, and its public statements will emphasize "cognitive" going forward. We count on our members to keep the conversations grounded in reality.
Some view the discussion of infrastructure as a matter of secondary importance to data management. This view is actually encouraged by many vendors of "software-defined" products who treat all hardware as commodity kit. However, the hardware layer of a data management platform is just as important as the software services that are applied to managed data per policy.
Truth be told, the software-defined crowd has never acknowledged that all storage is "software-defined." Over the years, the software services stack moved, in whole or in part, from a hosting system (mainframe, server, PC) onto array controllers. These migrations were based on many drivers, ranging from the proximity of the service to the data, the resource consumption characteristics of the service based on where it executed, and, of course, the desire of the vendor to add value to products in order to justify an increased selling price.
The fact is that hardware manifests significant engineering effort and design complexity. Links to and from the kit, plus the hardware architecture of the kit itself may accelerate data movement to the kit, or create log jams and choke points. Data managers need to concern themselves with performance and must understand the root causes of application or virtual machine performance issues -- which may or may not be related to the storage resources that are being used, their workload burden, and their connections to the hosting system.
Bottom line: DMI is very much concerned with the hardware layer and with the management of storage resources as well as storage services.
The so-called "software-defined storage" revolution, which is not really revolutionary (nor even new), has helped many IT practitioners see that much of the functionality of storage (and servers and networks) is actually provided via software-based services. In an SDS environment, many of the services operate from a software stack running on the hosting server, often under the auspices of a server hypervisor. In other environments, some services may be delivered via point software products (think backup software) or via software embedded on array controllers and/or ASICs or via free-standing controllers/software stacks operating independently of hypervisors or operating systems.
However services are provided, part of data management involves the identification of appropriate services to apply to data based on management policy. The status of each these services must be gathered on an on-going basis to avoid overburdening one storage service broker with too much data. So, assigning services is a matter of considerable interest to DMI.
Virtually any data management scheme, properly called, depends on some sort of metadata (data about data) tagging. Metadata tags characterize data and tell us how often a file or an object is accessed or updated, so we can determine whether data is being used and re-referenced frequently ("hot data") or not at all ("cold data.") This is important for deciding where best to store the data.
From this rather coarse use of metadata, we can see more and more granular metadata enabling more exact technique for managing data. For example, metadata identifying the workflow that is producing the data, the business process that the data serves, or the departmental location or user role associated with the data can help us to classify the data more exactly and apply resources and services to the data in a more appropriate way.
That said, metadata-based management is a challenge and many approaches are being tried. We are watching these approaches closely at DMI and will provide members with the latest data on metadata management as techniques find their way into products and services.
The Data Management Institute offers a unique type of certification -- a free one. To those who believe that you get what you pay for, this may seem to de-value DMI certifications. However, we find costly certifications that are offered in the market today to provide no greater value than DMI's certifications. Over 80,000 DMI trainees agree.
Data Management Institute certifications, in addition to being cost free, do not require re-certification at regular intervals. We leave it up to members to decide when they need a refresher or an update to their skills and knowledge. In fact, it is feedback from our certificants that helps to shape the courseware that we offer. We usually update courses with additional modules over a period of a year or two, then re-edit and re-record the entire training course to incorporate all of the update modules.
We welcome feedback from trainees and sometimes reach out to them for their experience with respect to applying what they have learned in DMI training that helped them in the real world. We want to ensure that our courseware remains relevant to the trainee, his or her work requirements, and to the advancement of data management as an IT discipline.
A couple more points about DMI certifications. First, please note that DMI certifications are not affiliated with any other certification authority. Completing a course and obtaining a certification from DMI does not "accrue points" toward a non-DMI certification program.
Second, completion of your certification training will typically result in the delivery, via email, of a certificate of completion that you can print locally and post on your wall. DMI would also like to keep a record of which members are certified in which disciplines, so send us an email to tell us when you have completed your courseware (and tell us what you thought about the content and how relevant it is to your work, so we can improve the courseware going forward). We are setting up an area in each member's registration page where DMI administration can list which certifications you have taken and the date. That way, if an employer or prospective employer calls us to confirm that you have received the DMI certifications that you listed on your CV or resume, we can simply check your membership page.
Finally, we should mention that your certification is forever. It does not expire.