The work users put into storage archiving, data protection, and disaster recovery could be for nought, unless they start classifying the mountains of corporate data held within their organizations.
"I don't know how you do data protection when you have an undefined mass of data," says Jon William Toigo, chairman of the Data Management Institute, and president of analyst firm Toigo Partners International. At a New York City event for IT managers this week, he warned, "The only way to build a data protection strategy is to understand the data itself." Firms will never lock down their back-end systems until they get their data sorted up front, he said.
Simply put, the problem facing many storage managers is an overgrowth of data, some of which warrants costlier treatment than other information. The process of determining the data that gets priority treatment on disk-based backup systems with higher-end security, though, requires sifting through terabytes or even petabytes of data. Users attending this week's event said identification must be followed by the application of stringent rules to complex corporate information and overcoming resistance from other parts of the business.
The bigger the business, the tougher the challenge. "It requires a lot of understanding of the business and the regulations you are working with," says Geoffrey Chen, systems architect at pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Aventis. "Because we have data centers in different countries, the regulations that we have to consider are not just from the U.S.A."
Chen is working on a country-by-country basis to solve his data classification problem. Long term, he's looking to ILM technology to help him harness his data. "The ultimate goal is to know our information better, save money, and streamline our storage," he says.