What Is Inactive Data – And How Much of It Do You Really Have?

A recent study by Osterman Research found that two-thirds of storage decision makers at mid-sized and large enterprises believe that 50% of the total data that their organization is storing is inactive. This translates into the organization paying to archive and retain a vast amount of data that is not being regularly accessed by employees to support revenue-generating initiatives.

In today’s heavily regulated world, it is inevitable that businesses will need to store a growing amount of “cold” data. To comply with legal statutes and eDiscovery requirements, data may need to be preserved for seven years or even longer. The problem is that, although enterprises are storing and capturing this data, it is not typically readily accessible to users. This must change for storage managers to be able to more efficiently respond to data privacy regulations and eDiscovery requests, and to better serve a growing appetite from lines of business to mine their data for insights.

The first step in this process for storage managers is getting a handle on what data is being stored, and how that data is being used. Storage Switzerland’s audits of storage environments consistently find that, in fact, 75% or 80% of a typical enterprise’s data may qualify as inactive. These audits are typically eye opening for the storage manager, who requires a tool that provides centralized and holistic visibility as well as control over backup and archive.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that many enterprises have data backup implementations, but they don’t have a method in place to tier that data, as it ages, to a lower-cost long-term retention storage platform. In fact, 26% of the respondents to the Osterman Research survey indicated that they are using high-performance (read: premium-priced) storage resources such as solid-state disks (SSDs) to store inactive data. For example, it does not make sense to incur the cost of storing a three-year old medical image that is unlikely to be accessed again, on this premium tier. Even costs in the public cloud, which is utilized by 25% of respondents to the Osterman Research survey for inactive data storage, can add up if the cloud service is not utilized effectively.

For additional insights from this study and for further discussion on how to use the cloud to avoid tradeoffs between data accessibility and cost parameters, access Storage Switzerland’s on demand webinar in collaboration with HubStor and Osterman Research, “Complete Your Cloud Transformation – Store Your Data in The Cloud.”

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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