Data management key to squeezing out value

Storage needs are growing while budgets are sinking, but companies can address the discrepancy by managing their data life cycle, a recent survey says.

Storage needs are growing while budgets are sinking, but companies can address the discrepancy by managing their data life cycle, a recent survey says.

Company policy should dictate the most efficient management of data depending on its age and frequency of use, meaning that recent data should be the most immediately available, says Storage-Tek marketing manager Joan Tunstall.

“When data is accessed frequently is also when it’s generating the most revenue for the company. That’s when you can afford to do expensive things with it.”

Going to the other extreme, there is a huge amount of data which is rubbish, she says. “It’s just as important to expire records as it is to keep records,” she says.

StorageTek surveyed 25 large and medium-sized Kiwi organisations this month and found that while companies are experiencing high storage growth, their IT budgets are not keeping pace.

Around 70% of the respondents had seen their storage needs increase by 50% year-on-year, yet 60% reported that their storage budgets were the same or shrinking. Meanwhile, storage prices are dropping by 35% a year.

Tunstall says the problem should be approached by looking at the life cycle of the data and managing it better.

“We generally access data most in the early part of its life cycle and we pay a premium to make sure it can be accessed quickly. Then over a period of time it drops off to nothing.”

The survey asked participants what percentage of information on their disk sub-systems had not been accessed in the last 20 days. The figure was about 50%.

Tunstall says this is actually on the low side. “I think that traditionally it would be more like 75% is not accessed in 20 days. At 60 days there is hardly any access at all.”

When data is making the most money for a company is when it can have it on the fastest devices, and implement storage options such as RAID, she says. There comes a point when its contribution to revenue is not as strong so companies can look at doing something different in the cost equation such as near-line or robotic tape storage or, as an interim step, a secondary tier of disk storage, she says.

Tunstall says the other aspect to reducing the cost of storage is offloading data to online disk so it doesn’t have to be intensively managed.

“Part of the solution is to have policies for your data. Define which types of data, if not accessed after 30 days, will be moved to the next tier.”

Tunstall says included in the policy should be guidelines on what type of data should not be kept.

“If you go back to paper-based records, organisations had people whose job it was determine the policy in terms of records. Electronic records are no different. People who understand the business are the ones who should be doing that and the IT people can then put it in place.”

StorageTek asked people what types of data use were causing their data growth.

About 67% said documents and email were the major contributors.

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