If they ever start a reality show for information hoarders I could in trouble. It’s probably not good TV though because you can still walk easily through my house and I can still fit all of the cars in the garage. With just a couple of arrays sitting in a closet and some stuff in the cloud, I can store information that would take garage-sized spaces on paper.
But, even though I can navigate my hallways, it doesn’t mean that my information is of any real use. While digital information hoarding isn’t visible, it still can be disabling to individuals and organizations in terms of both costs and time spent trying to manage it all.
I have spent a great deal of time with CIOs, IT directors and storage experts discussing the best practices of information management. Most companies are continuously taking steps to reduce the cost of and improve leverage from their information. Across all of these organizations, I have found that 6 key best practices currently stand out as the most effective approaches to dealing with information overload. They are:
- Centralize it
- Virtualize it
- Put it all online
- Tier it
- Manage it holistically
- Leverage it
Let’s take them briefly one by one.
Centralize it – So many benefits come from information centralization; better security, lower storage costs, and easier management to name a few. The one big negative has been performance over distance. New technology that allows for edge “caching” with WAN acceleration has become the final game-changer for information centralization. There are no more excuses.
Virtualize it – This is not much controversy here. Virtualization and thin provisioning saves cost and makes management much easier. Done deal.
Put it all online – I equate tape to a hoarders version of a mini-storage warehouse. Technically, the stuff is still there but there is no realistic way to ever use it or get rid of it. Thanks to latest generation de-dupe technology, there is no reason to continue to keep data offline. With low-cost online backup, information can be searched and recovered easily and also disposed of when needed; the viscous circle of renting more mini-warehouses can come to an end.
Tier it – An oldie but still important is to put the information on an optimized storage platform. One size does not fit all for data. The overall cost savings by picking the right storage type can be significant.
Manage it holistically – This is actually a new emerging area for storage management. Typically functions like RAID, snapshot, local replication, DR, archive, and backup have been approached separately, often by completely different organizations. Looking at each element individually will often create many more copies of data then are actually needed. If you look at the management need holistically, there are ways to have copies of data actually serve multiple needs. Think of it as data de-duplication at the management layer!
Leverage it – We do everything else with data and information (store it, protect it, back it up) with the main reason being that the information can create value to the business. What is surprising is how companies often set too little aside to actually get leverage from the information. Leveraging information, for example, can come from building in better BI/DW capabilities or using ECM and search to better manage unstructured information. No matter what your need, be sure to remember to allocate time and money to technology the actually helps you leverage your information. This is where the money is made.