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Dark data dragging down already stretched IT resources, says report

VeritasInformation management software vendor Veritas has released the second in its Databerg Report series, outlining the risks of ballooning amounts of data and the pressures on companies both to handle and make effective use out of what’s quickly becoming an unstructured and invisible mountain of data.
The word “Databerg” sums it up. There’s the visible, or identifiable percentage of data that companies know about and can potentially use, accounts for 36% of “tagged and classified data” in Canadian IT departments.
Of that 36%, 13% is business critical data, essential for the company’s operations, while the other 23% is what is referred to as “ROT”, an acronym for “redundant, obsolete or trivial” data.
The remaining 64% is referred to as “dark data”, which simply hasn’t been identified. It’s the invisible part of the Databerg.
Your company, presumably, is the Titanic, navigating as best it can between the ice floes that it can see.
“Understanding and acknowledging that a data hoarding culture exists is a first step in addressing the problem,” said Veritas Chief Marketing Officer Ben Gibson. “More and more organizations are realizing it. The problem most face is they do not know what data to start with, what risk it may contain and where the value is discovered. Once they have visibility into that environment, they can make decisions faster, with more confidence, and bring in other business stakeholders to move forward with a well-conceived plan.
The bottom line for companies is that managing all this data has become a drag on resources and time, in addition to the day-to-day work that already stretched IT departments are preoccupied with just to keep their employees’ work lives functioning smoothly.
On a global scale, 64% is the Canadian number, which is 12% higher than the global average, putting Canada in second-worst place on the list of countries struggling with dark data, according to the results of the research study, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Veritas, which covered 2,550 respondents across 22 countries.
The Veritas report also wants to dispel three myths that have cropped up with the advent of “the cloud”: 1) that more data delivers more value 2) that there’s such a thing as free storage and 3) that all data is created equal.
Along with the realization that “the cloud” is basically “someone else’s server”, companies could also be proactively developing best practices around data management, which classifies data into groups that either have business value or don’t, while also impressing on employees that company resources aren’t maybe the best place to keep their music collections and funniest home videos.
Aside from the privacy and copyright minefield opened up by casual storage of personal files, more data means more wasted resources for companies, whose IT departments are already struggling under the weight of day-to-day demands.
According to the survey, 70% of employees who used their workplace to keep personal files responded affirmatively to having stored personal photos, while 57% said yes to keeping personal ID and legal documents on-site, with 32% downloading and installing non-approved software on their work computers.
Veritas estimates that for a mid-sized organization handling 1,000 TB of data, the cost of hanging on to all that non-mission critical data, the dark part of the databerg, is approximately $650,000 per year.
Of course, the dream for most IT departments is to have adequate budgets allocated just to adequately handle routine operations and respond to emergency situation, never mind going above and beyond to optimize their system so that money isn’t flying out the window because of poor data management practices.
As it is, it’s a tough sell convincing companies that spending more in the short term will equate to cost savings through the implementation of best practices right now.
Veritas, which it should be pointed out stands to benefit from helping companies solve their data problems, estimates that the problem will represent a $4.6 trillion Cdn. loss for organizations worldwide by 2020.
That said, there’s no question that the sheer explosion of data in the past five years, not to mention the resources required for storing and processing it all, has placed huge demands on existing infrastructure and created new industries co-existing with in-house IT departments in the form of cloud-based services that in theory are supposed to lighten the load.
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