In the first article in this blog series, we looked at some of the challenges facing CIOs in relation to enterprise data storage. In this article, we’ll explore these challenges in more detail.
CIOs, seeking to deliver agility, improved operational efficiency, support for mobile and cloud platforms and services, and reduced costs, are facing a gathering storm of challenges raised by rapidly growing volumes of unstructured data, compounded by significant quantities of often decades-old siloed legacy data.
Cloud apps and platforms, and mobile devices and apps generate an ongoing flood of data that must be stored, secured, kept in accordance with legal and other regulations, and made available and shareable as required, yet kept from prying eyes. All while saving both CapEx and OpEx.
Data growth has become a near-permanent fixture in the five most commonly expressed high level IT priorities. That’s a result of the sheer rate at which data volumes are growing – ESG research has found that almost two-thirds of organisations experience data growth of at least 20% per annum, with 23% seeing annual growth rates of 50% or more.
The challenges arising from the sheer rate of new data generation are compounded by enormous amounts of unstructured legacy data. Dating back to various points in the organisation’s history, it may have originated on any of a variety of devices, including PCs and laptops, shared departmental drives, and removable devices such as memory sticks, hard drives and digital cameras.
It is estimated that 50% to 95% of all files are inactive, but still have value to be extracted. Architectural design, data, for example, is often retained for 30 years or longer, since building design approaches typically have no predetermined lifespan. Oil exploration companies keep seismic data for even longer periods, bringing new analytical tools to bear on old data to realise new value.
Manufacturers routinely retain files for entire product lifecycles for legal, customer service and product innovation purposes, while marketing departments and agencies repackage old video content for new campaigns, perhaps for new content looking back at yesteryear.
Data like this cannot be deleted or, often, even archived. It typically holds significant business value and must remain accessible and shareable.
Cloud technology, mobile devices and apps have brought many benefits to users, enabling and simplifying a plethora of tasks that previously consumed significant time and effort – or were simply impossible. For IT, though, they have also raised the spectre of shadow IT, with line of business managers and users adopting applications, devices and platforms without involving or informing IT.
In many organisations, IT have no clear idea of what is in use, where or by whom. ESG’s cloud security research saw 65% of IT professionals reporting a moderate to significant number of shadow IT applications across their organisations. Shadow IT being what it is, it seems likely that the reality is worse.
Managing, controlling and securing the data generated by resources which the IT team cannot identify is clearly seriously challenging.
From the desktop to the datacentre, IT departments have typically purchased storage systems according to individual point needs. This has created information silos which make managing the data itself impossible, instead enforcing a regime of capacity-based storage system management.
The result is an enterprise-wide sprawl of storage system silos. Some remain under-utilised, while others are oversubscribed. All classes of data are stored together, often on higher tier storage than is necessary. Systems with unused capacity waste investment, driving CapEx, while those with insufficient space impair performance, driving OpEx, in the form of increased storage management costs.
Further complicating the situation, diverse groups, departments and lines of business increasingly provision their own storage, via software-as-a-service file sync and share tools, creating further unmanaged and unprotected silos.
With data in multiple silos and shadow IT deployments, the latter often undocumented, undeclared and even forgotten, there are few tools that can provide effective data visibility. Inventorying data becomes an arduous manual task, making effective data governance, for all practical purposes, impossible.
A significant challenge since the earliest days of business IT, data security has become significantly more complex and difficult with the rise of cloud, mobile and shadow IT. With multiple clouds in play and an invisible set of shadow IT deployments in the background, IT often does not know what data is stored where, nor what access rights have been granted against it. ESG research found that increased data security is the most frequently cited business and IT priority.
Data sprawl and silos impair visibility to such an extent that IT often cannot know where business-critical and regulated information is, nor, therefore, manage or protect it. Such information will often be spread over multiple locations, multiplying the risk of a breach.
Lack of visibility makes impossible the appropriate application of the data encryption policies so important to cloud adoption scenarios, hampers the setting of appropriate data retention policies, impairs data cleansing upon project completion, and hinders the meeting of e-discovery, legal hold and other regulatory obligations.
Addressing the Challenges
To improve operational efficiency, reduce and control CapEx and OpEx, leverage automation technologies, and optimise and future-proof cloud strategy, it is essential to effectively address these challenges.
An enterprise file system designed to centrally manage, protect and leverage information will allow IT to pull all data assets together into a single, consolidated whole, reducing data sprawl and helping stop sensitive data ending up on insecure systems scattered around the organisation.
It will help cut CapEx wastage arising from silos and redundant data, and OpEx wastage driven by file sprawl and poor performance, while reducing the risk of data remaining unprotected, or sensitive data becoming exposed.
In the third blog in this series we’ll look at how such a file system can be created, and the benefits it can realise.
To learn more about how enterprise file systems address these challenges, read ESG’s white paper, How Re-architecting the File Storage Environment Can Help Reduce Risk and Cost, and Increase Operational Efficiency – download here.