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6 Must-Haves for a Solid Data Management Plan

Posted by Brett Johnson on May 5, 2017 10:00:00 AM

 

As data continues to grow at exponential rates, companies must create a solid data management plan to make the most of this asset and put them in the best possible position for success. Obtaining this level of “information utopia” doesn’t come without its share of challenges.  

Information management oversees data throughout its life from creation to deletion and having a clear plan will help maximize the best use of IT budgets. Consider one of the most common business functions, email.

A company, after thorough data analysis, could save on storage space just by archiving email. If that business has a petabyte of data, applying Gartner’s estimate of $5 million per petabyte1, archiving will save the business $1.25 million per year in the cost of infrastructure if they reduced storage by 25 percent. 

A comprehensive data strategy can help companies better control what and where information is stored, protected, and made available, while offering accurate reporting capabilities. There are six important milestones to include in an information management plan: creation, classification, storage, availability, protection, and elimination.

Creation

Data is being created everywhere: email, wearable devices, medical records, social media, receipts, invoices, etc. Gaining visibility into captured data on company infrastructure is very important. If a company lacks this insight, they can become vulnerable to a number of things, like litigation for lack of compliance, which can negatively affect the business. Without visibility, the answers to these questions can be unknown: 

  • How can a company decide what data is important and what isn’t?
  • Is the right data available to the right people?
  • Is the company compliant with government regulations?
  • Are the IT operations in place today ideal to the business needs?
  • Is sensitive data being properly protected?

Discovering what’s being stored is the first step in managing the data. By doing so, proper business and IT policies can be put in place and the right decisions can be made based on actionable intelligence.

Classification

A company can begin to answer strategic IT questions and streamline processes to best suit their needs by identifying what and where data is.  

  • Do we keep storage operations in-house? Do we move to the cloud? Do we adopt a hybrid cloud?
  • How can we make better use of the storage resources we have?
  • Do we have proper data protection in place?
  • Is the data available when it’s needed?
  • How can we move data through its lifecycle?
  • Are we making the best use of backup/restore operations?
  • What type of disaster recovery best fits our needs?

While simply gaining visibility into the data may not explicitly answer these questions, it shapes and guides the direction to these answers and what fits the business best. 

Storage

After classifying the data, you can then answer the question: Where do we store each type of data and how? Critical data may need to live on expensive tier 1 storage while tier 2 storage may be suitable for other types of data. 

This is a good place to use cloud storage as well. Email, for example, can be stored in an on-premise or cloud-based solution where the user can recover their data from an offsite server. With the proper solution, you can set rules to automate archiving based on size or age. This allows the user to have a consistent experience by moving the old email out of their mailbox while still allowing a user to search for archived email. 

Availability

Once you know what data you have and its relevance, ensure the data is available to those who need it when they need it. As the old saying goes, “time is money” and if critical data isn’t readily available, a company can lose money.

High availability may not be practical for all types of data. For older data, archiving can be especially useful for retention, compliance, and litigation purposes. Be sure you can recover data and preserve it in accordance with business/industry regulations. A potential policy around availability, in the case of emails, could be that archived emails can be saved and discoverable for up to seven years once archived.

Protection

Properly managed data means you can implement the right security and protection policies for each type of data. Not only should you put traditional security best practices in place, but protecting data by means of backup is very important as well. 

Take for example the numerous companies in recent news who have been victims of ransomware. If they’d properly backed up and stored their data off the network, they would have been able to restore their own data without paying the ransom. 

Elimination

Data can have a usable shelf life and will vary depending on the kind of data. Old, stale data that is taking up valuable storage space is not a good use of resources. It can also have negative impacts on many IT operations including backup/restore and disaster recovery. The amount of time will vary by regulatory laws and the nature of the business.   

There are many solutions available today which help companies in their information management journey. While this may seem like a tedious task, proper management of data can save companies thousands to millions of dollars a year.

By taking control of data, you’ll see the full picture and can put a great asset to work. Call us today to connect with an information management specialist 1-800-237-8931 ext. 73246

Source: Gartner IT Key Metrics Data Report

 

Tags: Data Management, Data Breach

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