Data is growing at a staggering rate and managing it in a cost-effective and efficient way is therefore becoming increasingly difficult across every industry. Krishna Subramanian, COO at Komprise, discusses having a strategic approach to data management to create business benefits.
The world is currently experiencing a data growth explosion and businesses need to meet the demands of this or risk falling behind their competitors. Advances in technology are increasing by the day and IDC predicts that the world’s data will increase by more than five times between 2018 and 2025, to a staggering 175 Zettabytes. Not only is this going to cause challenges due to its volume, but also because much of the data will be unstructured and this forces businesses to rethink their data management capabilities. Therefore, implementing the most cost-effective solution that still brings increased efficiency for IT teams should be the main priority for business leaders.
To add to the confusion, many businesses are also planning to consolidate their data across all of their storage systems, but this is not an easy process to get right. There’s never a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, meaning most businesses rely on multiple solutions, creating the need for a simple way to manage data across them all.
The consolidation challenge
With the ever-increasing amount of money that extensive data storage is costing businesses, being able to consolidate all of this is crucial to bring these prices down and increase the efficiency of the existing storage solutions. However, this is rarely an easy job for a business to carry out – but why?
From a technical perspective, challenges arise because data storage is often driven by several different initiatives. Since there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for storage, businesses typically deploy multiple storage solutions that manage data at different performance and cost tiers. Some of these will be expensive solutions that handle the constant, active or ‘hot’ data that employees are using every single day. Others will be more simplistic storage options that store any ‘cold’ data which is used less often. Because of these contrasting workloads, consolidating the data across these is tough to manage.
Additionally, aside from the technical challenges, there are also the difficulties caused by both organisational and financial aspects. Companies are now becoming more distributed than ever before, so managing the data across many different locations is creating an entirely new obstacle. Although cloud can appear to be the most suitable answer, it is not always a feasible option for every organisation and so physical storage must continue to exist. There is also the increasing issue of having control over your data – different departments or sections of a business may have different rules surrounding data access and storage, so being able to manage these effectively without any mix-ups is a must.
Data-centric: The ideal solution
For businesses to effectively manage their storage solutions without bills soaring through the roof, a strategic approach to data management is the answer, particularly when it comes to their unstructured data. Often, rising storage and backup costs are not because of the storage, but rather they are a result of poor data management. To help reduce these costs, there are four key steps that should be followed in every storage solution for businesses to ensure that they can get the best use out of their data:
- Data searching and collecting – Teams need a mechanism to collect all of the data
- Index – Once an index is built, from here teams can search across all data held by the organisation
- Analysis – Teams can study the data to pull the required conclusions
- Actions – Finally, the necessary actions can be taken as a result of the analysis
Implementing security and threat management is vital within step four, as this is the stage where the knowledge gained from the analysis can be used to provide the most beneficial result for the business. For example, any areas that are vulnerable to cyberthreats can be identified and a security solution can be found and implemented to reduce the risk to the business. Additionally, by introducing data augmentation into this process, IT teams can improve the quality of the data itself and technology such as image recognition can add additional tags to data that can help employees to find the exact files they are looking for, quicker.
Customers will always desire more visibility when it comes to their own data, as they want to reap the most value from it. But the challenge facing them is, how can they get this regardless of where their data is being stored? Having a data-centric approach that is storage-agnostic – as opposed to other approaches such as data protection-based – is the best solution that businesses can adopt. This provides them with the visibility first, so that they can then increase efficiency and ROI, and in turn unlock the value of their data.
Data-centric vs. the alternatives
The simplicity and ease with which IT teams can integrate a data-centric approach is one of the main reasons why it is so perfect for so many. As multi-vendor storage environments are becoming more and more common in businesses, this approach suits this structure as it is made up of one system that works across them all. It is also standards-based – it works specifically for the systems that are currently in place, so it can be tailored to any customer regardless of their IT environment. A data-centric approach is typically quick to produce return on investment (ROI) and overall has a low total cost of ownership, making it a popular choice for many business leaders when considering the most cost-effective solution for their company. In the long-term, this approach works well for both smaller businesses and those that grow over time, as it can scale up quickly and easily, meaning there’s no need to worry about outgrowing the solution. It has minimal impact on the existing infrastructure and doesn’t disturb the current storage, user access or backup processes.
In contrast, different approaches over the years have not always been able to produce the same quality of results as the data-centric approach. For example, a solution that collects data through backups – a data-protection based solution – can be challenging because it requires investment in a backup infrastructure which can be expensive and complicated before it will generate any results. Where a data-centric approach can be added to the existing systems, a data-protection-based approach may involve removing the old environment and replacing it with the new. Therefore, this is unlikely to be the most cost-effective option as replacing an entire infrastructure will likely become very expensive. It can also be challenging because completing data management after a backup with unstructured data is often not possible – the data is already broken into blocks and grouped together, so any data movement would require the backup system to return the data to the original state, which eliminates any savings that have been made.
One of the biggest challenges businesses are facing is ensuring their data management solutions are capable of coping with the pressures of today’s data-driven society. To manage this, there is a vast number of solutions on offer for IT leaders to choose from – to find the right solution and see the greatest positive change, businesses should assess their current IT infrastructure and determine how a data-centric approach could be the perfect answer. By cutting both costs and time spent sifting through data, teams can organise all of their data across all systems, providing a better rounded service for customers around the clock.