Data growth has become enormous. Many organisations are seeing their data double – or even triple, in some cases – year on year. Data has also become more varied, with new technology trends such as the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) communications adding to the complexity.
For these reasons, data has become increasingly difficult to manage, costly to store and hard to protect, writes Johan Scheepers, Commvault systems engineering director for MESAT.
CIOs are continually pressed to deliver more value from data in an environment where innovation is demanded to stay ahead of the competition. They need to look beyond traditional data storage and backup, viewing data as a strategic – and advantageous – asset. There are many innovative technologies available that have the speed and agility to cater for new and increasingly complex requirements and environments, whilst driving the value that data should and could be delivering to an organisation.
Do more than just store
As organisations embrace digital transformation, the vast quantities of data being generated are growing at an exponential rate. There simply isn’t enough time for companies to sort through it all, nor enough money for the space to store everything. CIO’s, in conjunction with business, need to ask what data they need, for what purpose, and how long they need to keep it.
Today’s data storage, no longer an insurance-like grudge purchase, comes with value added services such as automated data classification, which enables organisations to easily sort, prioritise and tag their data. This is a huge benefit in terms of compliance, and ensures organisations don’t retain information that they shouldn’t, and that they hold on to what they must for how long they must in order to be compliant. Different organisations have different requirements for their data, from what is needed, how it can be used and how long they need to keep it – sometimes data only has value once it has been kept for a certain period of time and can be used for predictive analyses.
Data analysis is another service that can ensure organisations get active use out of their data instead of merely storing it away. Proper analysis can add value in multiple areas of business. These include the aforementioned predictions of trends, markets and customer practice, assisting with targeted marketing, predictive maintenance, and a host of other requirements.
‘Open’ cloud storage for better control
Cloud storage is still deemed a mysterious animal. People who use it don’t care to know what happens behind the scenes, or where their data is physically stored. They just want to access it. Cloud storage has typically required that organisations conform to the methods and software used by the vendors, only being able to access their data in a certain way and by people who know how.
A cloud storage system which offers an open application programming interface (API) gives the control back to the organisation. They get to select who accesses their data and how it is stored. Because most organisations, unlike consumers, need to have audit trails and confirmation of the security measures in place to protect their data, reputable cloud storage vendors ensure that with their ‘openness’ comes access control, monitoring and knowledge of where the data is stored.
Think smaller for big data
Many organisations today have started adopting big data and IoT technology, which uses up more and more data storage space on a daily basis. Managing and protecting this data is no easy feat, and the costs are growing with the need for space. Software defined storage (SDS) offers a solution. Due to the nature of the architecture, storage space can be provisioned across a number of storage devices, while centralised management platforms enable a single, virtualised access point.
SDS offers features such as duplication and replication, which allow active protection of data so that there is not only one copy of data available, but multiple copies, providing first class data recovery. SDS can also be used in conjunction with older storage systems, joining old data with new. Because of the use of shared infrastructure and the flexibility to ensure you get only what you need from SDS, it enables sizeable cost reductions – a boon when data is exploding at its current rate.
Looking at today’s data needs and the value that organisations demand from it, having a single repository for your data, one accessible by whomever requires – and is authorised to access – it, and one with analytics capability, allows organisations to extract the best value from their data while it is being stored.