The most pressing issue facing technology managers in terms of storage is not meeting capacity or hardware needs, but rather the classification and management of information.
“It is specifically information and not data that needs to be classified for effective management in terms of an Information Lifecycle Management solution,” notes Sagaran Naidoo, business technologist at CA.
“Data can be anything; information, on the other hand, has tangible value to the organisation.
“From its creation to its destruction, the lifecycle of information needs to be managed by companies in support of their business objectives if they are to gain optimal value from that information while also storing it in the most appropriate manner in terms of cost and accessibility,” he explains.
Noting that storage is an integral component of the complete management of an enterprise environment, which includes all systems, applications and infrastructure, Naidoo says companies are faced with four key imperatives in terms of their technology usage.
“Organisations are seeking to reduce costs, manage and mitigate risk, improve service and align IT with business needs. As the underlying foundation upon which all business systems must act, effective information storage and management is a core component which can contribute to these imperatives.”
Effective storage management consists of three critical and interrelated concepts – information management, recovery management and resource management.
Honing in on information management, Naidoo explains that more than ever, companies today are faced with the challenge of compliance with new regulations aimed at eliminating inappropriate corporate behaviour, mitigation of risk to protect the interests of shareholders, and requirements from government to protect data for the purpose of record-keeping to support litigation.
“Information has a definite lifecycle from creation to destruction. Within this lifecycle, the value of the information to the company will change; as it changes, it must be stored in the appropriate media [from high-speed, highly available and expensive disk subsystems, to lower cost, lower availability archiving systems].
“Having said this, it is imperative to note that age should not be the only factor used for these decisions.
“Archived medical records, for instance, may still need instant access in an emergency although they might be accessed infrequently.
“Obviously with the sheer quantity of information in any company, this is a task that can only be successfully achieved if technology forms part of the overall solution,” says Naidoo.
Drawing attention to compliance he notes that, while most South African companies may not yet have to comply with stringent legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the local offices of internationally-affiliated organisations do.
There are also further issues such as the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the recommendations of the King II Report and the ECT (Electronic Communications and Transactions) Act.
“The ECT Act, for example, notes that ‘integrity is crucial when using electronic evidence as evidentiary weight’.
Naidoo says that the value of having the capability to produce electronic evidence such as an E-mail record within a defined timeframe, and prove that it has not been tampered with, can be significant.
“It could be the silver bullet that prevents a company executive from going to prison, or saving a company millions of rands in a lawsuit,” he explains.
Effectively, Naidoo argues that the ultimate goal of an information management strategy is to provide an environment that meets legislative and corporate policies, improves operational efficiency and reduce the total cost of ownership of storage by optimising and maximising resource utilisation.
“Meeting these goals requires robust archiving and records management solutions that meet the strictest of compliance and regulatory requirements, yet still deliver ease of use which allows companies to manage the complexity of their enterprise systems environments.”