It is easy to look at challenges to the enterprise data environment and view them as infrastructure problems or architectural problems or system problems. In reality, it is all a data problem – as in too much data coming in too quickly and in too much of a disjointed fashion.
And things are only going to get worse as organizations attempt to deal with Big Data, the Internet of Things, data mobility, and a host of other initiatives coming down the pike. So while measures to improve and expand infrastructure and architecture are vital as data trends emerge, so are ways to capture and manage these ever-increasing volumes without breaking the IT budget but still preserving the value of data within the overall business model.
According to MarketsandMarkets, the enterprise data management space is expected to nearly double in size by the end of the decade from today’s $64 billion to more than $105 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 10.2 percent. Key drivers here include the need for business continuity in the event of data loss plus the need to reduce the total cost of ownership of data, both of which are exacerbated by the flood of data coming into the enterprise. To meet this challenge, data management platforms are incorporating a wide range of disciplines, including integration, migration, warehousing, governance and security.
Part of the challenge in managing Big Data volumes will be determining what to keep and what to delete, says Mark Lamson, IT director for Connecticut’s Westerly public school system. In a profile on ITWorldCanada, he notes that previous policies mandated that all data be saved, which is simply unsustainable as volumes grow and represents enormous ongoing costs even as the value of data diminishes over time. For a public entity like a school system, the main challenge is in separating the important data, such as student identification and records, from the non-important, such as email communications between staffers, all the while conforming to established regulatory and compliance guidelines.
Of course, there is a steady stream of software tools and platforms to help with these challenges. As Silicon Angle’s Maria Deutscher points out, large companies like HP and small firms like Cohesity are addressing the issue on a number of fronts. HP’s Storage Optimizer utilizes advanced analytics to remove duplicate or unnecessary storage from backup, while the Cohesity Data Platform targets data fragmentation and sprawl in hyperscale architectures. In both cases, the intent is to drill deeper into actual data to assess its value and characteristics and then send it to the appropriate storage tier or remove it from the data chain entirely.
In addition to storage, however, the enterprise needs to manage its network data flows, and as Fortune’s Jeff Roberts highlighted recently, even something as simple as an Internet ad-blocker can reduce traffic by as much as 25 percent. Research from Simon Fraser University indicates that even a consumer program like Adblock Plus would reduce network infrastructure and operating costs on both internal and external network infrastructure and would spare workers from exposure to unnecessary ad data as they complete their tasks. Roberts notes, however, that tools like Adblock are pay-to-play to begin with, which means certain ads are allowed through as long as the advertiser pays for the access. As well, loss of ad revenue would hamper the profitability for many websites that knowledge workers rely on for information, so it may cause more harm than good.
One thing is clear: Few organizations will have the option to preserve all data, plus duplicates, for much longer. The volumes will simply be too large, both in terms of storage and the ability to categorize, analyze and manipulate data in worthwhile fashion.
This means the enterprise will need to start taking a hard look at its data and determine bit-by-bit how it should be managed or whether it is worth keeping at all.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.