Managing Inactive Data

By Michael
April 26, 2011

Old-computer

It seems like no matter where I go lately or what I read, someone’s talking or writing about the data explosion. It’s no secret that the quantity of data in the business universe is growing at a blistering pace, possibly doubling every 14 months or so.

In some ways, more of a good thing is…well, a good thing. The sheer volume of data at the disposal of many businesses opens up new possibilities in terms of analytics. With the right strategies and tools in place, organizations could start to understand, and make better decisions about, their customers, competitors, markets and products or services better than ever before thought possible. Significant productivity gains might be right around the corner thanks to this new level of data-driven decision-making. And, who knows—as companies find ways to turn this overabundance of data into a wealth of actionable information, we might see innovation of whole new businesses and industries—like the advisory service MasterCard has already built using its existing credit card purchasing data.

Too Much of a Good Thing

 In other ways, more can be too much of a good thing. An estimated 60 to 90 percent of production catalogs is inactive data. For compliance, potential litigation, analytical or “just-because” reasons, businesses are keeping these ever-growing stores of inactive data for longer and longer timeframes. As inactive data and retention timelines grow along with the overall data explosion, so does the challenge and cost of managing, storing and protecting this seldom-accessed—yet still business critical—asset.

Companies keeping all of this active data online are paying to procure, run and maintain unused backup servers and applications. They’re buying more and more storage hardware to back up catalogs bloated with inactive data. Their backup and restore windows are growing unbearably long to accommodate these clogged catalogs. Their migrations are unmanageable because there’s just too much data in production. What’s worse, after going to all of this expense and trouble to manage files that may never be opened again, they can’t find what they’re looking for when they need it.

We may not have the whole answer to managing the data explosion—after all, none of us has ever managed the 1,842 exabytes of data predicted to exist by the end of 2011. But I do think we know the first step to getting our arms around the challenges of managing ever-growing stores of inactive data: archiving. By archiving data sets that are still needed, yet rarely accessed, we can affordably keep this data accessible and protected until we need it or until a time where we can expire it safely.

And to make the job easier, organizations should be using data management software, like our Archived Data Manager and Vertices Tape Management System. With these types of tools, you are able to store, protect and track all your data with a click of a mouse.

What do you think? Is archiving the answer you need? How are you dealing with our exploding digital universe?

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