Exponential data growth is difficult to manage

By Neville Vincent*
Wednesday, 08 September, 2010

While information is the lifeblood of every organisation, exponential data growth and rising costs make it difficult for businesses to manage their data. Neville Vincent outlines the issues and how organisations can alleviate the associated pressures and costs.

Data is the principal asset for any organisation, enabling companies to make more informed and timely decisions, understand trends and manage performance. In short, information is the key to long-term business sustainability and growth.

The growth rate of storage and the demand on storage infrastructures continue to intensify, however, as we are bombarded with videos, emails, images and other data on a daily basis. Increasingly, it’s not only what sits in the data centre that needs to be considered - the adoption of social media platforms by businesses has also posed questions as to whether data hosted in public and private clouds needs to be managed - and if so, how.

Not surprisingly, the exponential costs of managing such information can be an ongoing nightmare for organisations. A Hitachi Data Systems report last year that surveyed 400 Australian and New Zealand ICT decision-makers found that the impact of the ‘information glut’ - the situation where growth and rising costs has led to inefficiency and inflexibility when it comes to information management - is considerable. One in three companies is suffering under the burden of excessive growth in digital information, while a similar proportion are unable to recover files from backup tape or easily respond to a court-ordered discovery audit for emails sent and received just 18 months ago.

The onus typically lies with the IT manager to manage this influx of digital information in order to reduce total cost of ownership of the IT infrastructure, improve employee productivity and efficiency, ensure regulatory compliance and increase customer satisfaction.

Virtualising unused storage space is one option to better utilise and optimise storage capacity, while cloud storage serves to mask the complexity of IT infrastructure and enables access to storage capacity as ‘a pay as you grow’ service. Cloud also enables organisations to safely segregate client data within a single storage solution, rather than through countless stand-alone silos.

Another key player in the future of managing information will be service providers, who are starting to simplify infrastructure management to cover servers, storage and network infrastructure and provide a self-service portal to the end user. This will enable the customer to straightforwardly scale up the amount of storage space as and when it is needed.

All these considerations are pointing to the fact that IT managers must strike a balance between mitigating security risks and delivering the best infrastructures in terms of throughput, availability, scalability, cost and complexity. Each organisation must make its own trade-off decisions based on its unique situation and the importance of its data. With more data being housed both within and outside an organisation, IT managers planning storage investments or use of third-party services will need to take into account key priorities like data confidentiality, privacy and security, in order to ensure that data is in line with regulatory compliance.

It is no secret that successful businesses will be able to deliver the right information at the right time and those who are well prepared with the right information will have an advantage over their competitors.

The key will be in ensuring the right processes and solutions are in place to minimise the effects of the ‘information glut’. By assessing the best ways to maximise the return on each dollar spent, it will be easier to manage exponential data growth, optimise efficiency and stay competitive.

* Neville Vincent is country manager for Australia and New Zealand at Hitachi Data Systems. Neville has over 18 years of international sales, marketing and general management experience in high-technology markets, with experience working in markets including in Korea, Japan, South Asia and the former Soviet Union.

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