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Guest view: What can you learn from the MSP revolution?

Mark Bentkower, Director of Enterprise Solutions, APAC, Commvault | June 17, 2014
What enterprise ICT departments can learn from the policies of industry-leading MSPs, in adopting three MSP processes and applying them to internal data management strategies.

Mark Bentkower, Commvault
Photo: Mark Bentkower

Global data growth is expanding at an incredible rate. In just the last two years, 90 percent of the world's extant data has been created. Given the explosion of low cost storage and mobile devices, there is every expectation that the global data footprint will continue to grow.

The cloud is becoming an increasingly viable option for enterprises to store this data; companies of all sizes and markets are rapidly adopting cloud infrastructures for improved cost, speed and agility.

It is particularly in the cloud market that managed service providers (MSPs) are increasingly relied upon to bridge the gap between IT vendors and enterprises, which are grappling with enormous amounts of data, growing in terms of both volume and complexity.

In the emerging cloud sector especially, MSPs are trusted by both vendors and enterprises, revolutionising the industry by delivering true business value and tailored data management infrastructure. With firm policies that focus on standardisation, cataloguing, automation and budgets, MSPs enable enterprises to achieve increases in efficiency, reductions in management time and significant cuts in costs, time and time again.

Internal service level cataloguing
Most companies have little knowledge of the data they generate and store. As a result, to err on the side of caution, many companies retain unnecessary data, which means redundant, long-term storage costs to the organisation. This is where internal IT departments can learn from MSPs. MSPs prioritise and define service level agreements at the very start of any engagement.

As a matter of standard practice, most MSPs will look to categorise and catalogue data based on what data should be retained, and how long it should be retained before it is deleted. This cataloguing is based on both external (i.e. legal compliance) and internal (i.e. data strategy) requirements. For example, financial services organisations that deal with personal information are required by law to keep data securely, sometimes for indefinite periods of time. Likewise, business processes unique to the company might require employee information to be archived, or sales and marketing information stored for future use in data analytics.

MSPs categorise data in a hierarchy system, thus ensuring that data is tiered and stored at the most cost-efficient and effective platform for pre-established lengths of time. A simplified example is the 'Gold, Silver, Bronze' cataloguing of datasets, where 'Bronze' processes are applied to less critical data sets, and 'Gold' processes, for more sensitive data. This cataloguing must take into account both the costs of actually storing the data, and also the accessibility of the data.

Enterprises need to assess how frequently various types of stored data will need to be accessed. A recent IDC study reports that in ASEAN, 84 percent of organisations surveyed reported access to data as 'critical' for their business. Hence, a robust cataloguing and archiving system should consist of multiple variables, such as file type, size, ownership, and last accessed and creation dates, among others.


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