Beyond band-aids: It’s time to get real with your data

1,028,160 petabytes a day

Setup by stallio (Flickr)

Setup by stallio (Flickr)

For most businesses, data is exploding at a rapid rate. According to IDC, by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every person on the planet.

That’s 1,028,160 petabytes a day; the entire written work of mankind, from the beginning of recorded history, in all languages – twenty thousand times over.

The challenge this brings for IT is the ability to accurately forecast data growth. Whether its back-up or archiving to tape or cloud, incorrect forecasting can have significant impacts across an organisation, including increased costs, decreased customer satisfaction and regulatory compliance risks.

So if data is generating at a rate that’s too fast to analyse and manage – how can businesses successfully keep on top of their data? Today, many companies are still using the ‘band-aid’ approach. Hastily implementing various solutions that focus on a specific issue – backup, disaster recovery or archiving – but does little or nothing to solve the underlying problem. Instead, what businesses need to do is take a step-back and look at the bigger picture and develop a holistic approach to efficiently manage their data.

Get real with your data quality – It sounds like an obvious first-step, but many organisations don’t take time to stop and determine what data is relevant and essential to their business – rather they believe the myth that all data should be collected in case it’s useful down the track. The reality is data does have a shelf life, and after the minimum regulatory compliance requirements are met it should be discarded.

The combination of having all business data sources in a single local or virtual repository and trained staff identifying and classifying only business critical and quality data, will drastically reduce company’s management costs and increase their ability to gain richer business intelligence.

Get real with your data growth – To put it simply, properly forecasting data growth is crucial to long-term business success. However, in order to reduce cloud costs and the amount of licenses needed to factor in this growth, many businesses still tend to underestimate.

Having refined what data is needed, organisations are now better placed to accurately report their expected growth, reduce over consumption of cloud storage, decrease the chance of bill shock and maintain storage capabilities alongside the projected growth of the business.

Get real with your data solution – When push comes to shove, technology has an important part to play in successful data management. Despite years of investment and the various different solutions available, data can still for some businesses remain inaccessible, inaccurate, incomplete and insecure.

A common challenge for organisations is integration. It’s not that there are no solutions available to help in managing one’s data, but there are very few that work or can be adapted to fit one’s unique business. IT costs business a lot of money, so companies need to understand the different types of technologies available, how this can extract value from data and how this can be implemented while also complementing existing infrastructure

Get real with your data expertise – because successful data management is linked so closely with business success, the task of doing so remains stressful, which is why a company’s people are its most important asset in this journey. One of the areas that a lot of organisations overlook when they think about data management is the Human Resource skills that is required.

While self-service portals are fairly intuitive and can provide a relatively easy mechanism to get a business up and running, there still needs to be a level of expertise available to make all of these decisions – either within the business or through a specialist service provider.

Implementing a holistic and successful data management strategy is by no means easy. It’s complex, and needs oganisational and cultural changes to drive forward improvements. If a businesses does not adopt such a holistic approach, this can create IT blind spots and increase the likelihood of information based risks.

If we want data to become a strategic asset – from a strain to a strength – organisations of all shapes and sizes need to start by getting real with their data.

Chris Gondek is Principal Architect at Commvault ANZ

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