The future of converged information management
11-07-2012 - John Hatcher
As information creators, owners and users we are programmed to retain information. How many of us can honestly say we file what we receive, sift through and organise what we want to keep and discard what we don’t? The reason for this is simple. Fear. Fear that we inadvertently delete something we shouldn’t; fear that we might need something in the future that we cannot fully appreciate now; fear that when we apply rigour to the way we organise and keep information, it will always be incomplete and inaccurate due to human error.
Traditional data retention creates cost silos
The lack of control and organisation of this distinctive and individual human trait, together with limited purging of information, causes many hundreds of separate silos of hoarded and duplicated information spread out across the organisation. The result of which is quite dramatic: -
- The over management of data resulting in unnecessary IT spend to manage duplicated content
- Severely challenged record keeping for the consistent organisation of important information
- The near impossible access and discovery of information for legal compliance and response to internal incidents
The IT cost of retention is particularly impressive when you think of the number of copies of information that get created. The typical information types that we create cycle through active applications and systems based on working data copies that result in many other passive clones, including backup and protected recovery copies, archived copies for scalability and regulated data copies for compliant retention.
This is of course what we’ve always done. We buy best of breed solutions to keep doing it. It’s therefore no wonder that in response to global data growth patterns of 100%* or more, the default decision is to “just add more storage” resulting in an exacerbation of already restricted IT spend. Surely this inappropriate use of IT infrastructure and storage is at the very heart of our data growth challenge.
Perhaps we should instead start to ask ourselves the question: “where is my true cost in managing information?” Is it in the live systems above the water line in the information iceberg or is it the backup and archived copies that are siloed randomly and often inappropriately across the enterprise in response to disconnected departmental and individual needs?
What we need is a revolution in strategic approaches to data retention that truly “jazz” the way in which IT manages digital assets.
Think traditional archive and you typically think of tactical reasons why data needs to be moved to ease pressure on stretched applications or reduce the cost of data on file systems without a thought for appropriateness. In contrast, think data lifecycle and you naturally start to consider how to manage data through 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15 years or beyond. In short, we’re already thinking more strategically and requirements start to solidify around the need to intelligently move, deduplicate and apply retention to passive data typically at a granular level, whilst considering compliance directives that can be applied when future requirements dictate.
The journey to the land of strategic information retention?
A great way of assessing where you are and what you need to do is to grade yourself on the motivation, approach and capabilities you have to strategically retain information. Next you need to consider where important “digital” assets live, how they are managed and ultimately how you can converge the way you keep them. The true cost of passive data archiving, for example, is not in the way data is retained in an archive but how it is also protected. One terabyte (1TB) of archive data can easily lead to 10TBs more of protected archive --and the data hasn’t even changed. Active data in live applications and systems is also protected and already being copied for different scenarios. Neither is delivering a consolidated lifecycle approach to retention.
The answer: touch data once, store it once, and manage it once throughout its lifecycle
Bring on the single intelligent platform solution. A solution that unifies the way data is processed for backup and archive into a truly modern and single touch approach for converged and agile data lifecycle management. Incorporating deduplication throughout the lifecycle with automated rules that drive organization, retention, and disposition through a virtualised approach to retaining records, regardless of source or storage, and you have something special. A unified platform provides one place to keep data without duplication across the enterprise from protection to destruction. It enables CIOs to reduce long term costs and risks associated with retaining information and provides improved business access. IT Managers’ can directly reduce IT spend throughout the lifecycle of data management with improved operational efficiency and flexibility in storage management today and in the future. Application owners can get their systems working efficiently with reduced licensing and capped growth whether virtually or physically managed. End users also benefit from improved access to individual and corporate information across the enterprise enabling improved sharing of passive content. Corporate legal teams can finally, through a single mouse click, preserve legal content to reduce litigation risks and costs as well as gain insight into evidence early in the discovery process. Finally Records / Compliance teams can conform more easily to industry regulation with improved records organisation, supervision and monitoring.