Do You Need to Re-Prioritize Unstructured Data Management Priorities?

In our on demand webinar “The Elephant in the Data Center – Protecting, Managing and Leveraging Unstructured Data”, Storage Switzerland and Igneous discuss the recent 2018 State of Unstructured Data Management report. The report is available as an attachment to webinar attendees and one of the key takeaways from it is how most organization’s attitude toward unstructured data is different than their attitude toward structured data. Some of the differences are to be expected and others are cause for concern, especially in the light of regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The graphic to the left is from the 2018 State of Unstructured Data Management report and depicts the priorities organizations placed on each type of data. As expected, organizations consider the protection of both unstructured and structured data important. Protection ranks #1 on structured data priorities list and #3 on unstructured data’s list. Security is also important, ranking #1 for unstructured data and #2 on structured data. The remaining two priorities are different for each. The structured data list gives priority to performance (#3) and Governance (#4), the unstructured data list gives priority to accessibility (#2) and Insight (#4).

Regulations like GDPR and CCPA are just the beginning; more regulations around data protection and data privacy are on the way. Each of these regulations makes no differentiation between structured and unstructured data. In reality the top four priorities for each data set should be identical; security, protection, governance and performance, in that order.

A potential reason for the disagreement between lists is the challenge IT faces when applying these priorities to unstructured data, which is difficult and getting more so by the day as unstructured data continues to engulf the data center. In some cases current solutions that attempt to solve one of the priorities makes solving others more difficult.

Security is the top priority for unstructured data. Unstructured data is easier to attack or steal. A rogue user can easily copy sensitive unstructured data to their laptop, USB drive or cloud account. Ransomware and other forms of malware specifically target user data for attack. Securing unstructured data is more then just encrypting it. Most cyber-attacks and all rogue users are authenticated through the encryption keys. Organizations need to limit user access and crack down on the number of “super-user” accounts required, which means limiting the number of data protection and data management solutions they deploy. Organizations also need to assume they will be breached so they need to protect both data types frequently and consistently. Protection also means making sure unstructured data is protected in all its locations, including endpoints.

Protection, Governance and Insight should all be merged into a single solution, solving both priorities at once and picking up Insight without adding an additional solution. As standalone solutions, they each create problems when IT tries to meet the other priorities. For example, most backup solutions back up data at an image level but don’t provide the file-level granularity required to govern how that data is retained. That means that another solution, archive, has to separately scan unstructured data so IT can set specific file retention policies to adhere with the various governance requirements. Typically these solutions are not performance optimized and are not suitable for data protection. A single solution that is essentially a data protection solution on the front-end and a data management solution on the back end solves the problem perfectly. It also ends the “backup is not archive” debate.

Performance is a priority for both structured and unstructured datasets. While the demands for high performing databases is on-going, unstructured data increasingly needs high performance to meet the demands of artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and other high velocity workloads. Performance is not just a requirement for the storage systems that store production copies of these datasets but also the secondary storage systems that store protected copies. The data management software needs perform the protection, governance and insight functions rapidly so that IT can meet both internal expectations and external regulations placed on unstructured data.

StorageSwiss Take

Reprioritizing unstructured data is made easier if the organization has access to the right data management solution. The first step is finding a solution that evolves the typically separate functions of protection, management and insight into a single data management solution. A single solution enables IT to meet most of the top priorities in a single step.

Our on demand webinar “The Elephant in the Data Center – Protecting, Managing and Leveraging Unstructured Data” Storage Switzerland and Igneous provide insight into why unstructured data priorities need to change and how organizations can make that change while lowering costs. Register now and you will also have access to the recent 2018 State of Unstructured Data Management report.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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