Businesses of all types are collecting more data — sometimes this is inadvertent, sometimes it is completely intentional. With more and more devices connected to the internet and your corporate network, in addition to software that can store and analyze that data, information sprawl is a real factor in IT infrastructure strategy.
In order to better plan for data management, you should ask yourself these four questions. They can help guide your data strategy to maintain security, minimize risk, plan for costs, and improve performance.
You must understand the business drivers behind your data, otherwise it sits in cloud storage or on your storage array back in the server room, taking up valuable space and power. Don’t just collect all the information you can and expect to figure out how to use it towards your business advantage at a later date. Hire the data specialists you need now to manage your databases and crunch the numbers for business insights.
This can also help minimize risk. If you’re collecting less sensitive information in the first place, you have less of a security concern.
This question has many subquestions that feed into it. Where does the data originate? Where does it reside? Can you archive it? Does it need to be backed up? What information is critical for daily operations and what is accessed rarely? How does it traverse the network? In other words, who is using this data and when?
Once you answer these questions, you can best identify different environments for different types of data. For example, you can likely archive e-mails or transaction records from a few years ago, unless you have a specific analytics project coming up for that information. You must also plan for bandwidth and network considerations, especially with large datasets. If you’re running a big data analytics platform on-premise but storing data in cloud object storage, for example, you need to consider how you will transfer the data back and forth.
Your entire IT infrastructure stack likely has some measure of security applied. But sensitive information might need additional security measures, like encryption at rest and in transit or an audit trail compliant with specific industry standards. Credit card details, personal identifying information, and personal health information are all records that you should keep under lock and key.
Classify all of the data that may pass through your IT systems and sort it into different security priorities. You may also be able to save costs here by not applying additional security measures to less sensitive information.
Implement a data management policy that dictates how long records should be stored. For some organizations this may be forever, in long-term cold storage or tape archives. With some data you may be able to delete it after a year or longer. Some storage methods may be inexpensive, but none of them are free. Avoid data clutter by being proactive with your management policy.
For more information on cloud storage, see our past coverage on cloud storage types, cloud storage durability, software-defined storage, big data on VMware, and tips to reduce VMware disk storage use.