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Shedding light on dark data

Mark Bentkower Director of Systems Engineering, ASEAN, CommVault Systems | April 24, 2015
Mark Bentkower, CISSP, Director of Systems Engineering ASEAN, CommVault Systems, discusses the challenges organizations are facing today and provides best practices for companies to address their unstructured data challenges.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Data is the lifeblood of any organization. With data located in multiple repositories, organizations today struggle to find information when they need it. In fact, information managers often tend to have little to no insight into what data is being created, a limited control over how and where it is being stored, and almost no understanding of its business value. Not only is this content taking up valuable and expensive space, but it can also become a liability if not properly managed.

Almost all organizations have volumes of "dark data" stored away in dusty vaults and off-site storage facilities. This data is historically unaccounted for, unmanaged, and undervalued. A survey found that 70 percent of organizations reported that dark data will have a negative impact on storage and 53 percent said it would increase risk. Modern day analytics is bringing the problem of dark data into the spotlight and causing forward thinking enterprises to address this issue; not only to curb mounting storage costs, but also to gain a true understanding of unstructured data.

Control the growth of data

The first step to controlling dark data is to manage its sheer volume. Dark data is not hype. In fact, classification and valuation continue to be the most pressing issues when it comes to aging data[2]. The old adage "What you don't know can't hurt you" no longer holds true in today's business environment and this is what makes the concept of dark data so vexing. Dark data can include legacy file shares, backup tapes, archives and former employee email stores that are predominantly unclassified and not visible or accessible.

The challenge of dark data becomes to balance its liability with its potential profit gains from using information more strategically. To stay ahead of the competition, organizations have to be able to gain actionable insights from large data volumes. They should be able to identify and select data that is important to the business. Modern archive solutions should allow organizations to keep only content with business value, which can in turn significantly reduce retention costs.

Capture Data Holistically - from the Edge to the Cloud

The next key to unveiling dark data is to implement a comprehensive archive strategy. Data produced on edge and mobile devices can be exceptionally valuable, just as much as information stored in virtualized servers, a corporate cloud and everything in between. To ensure that the organization's data intelligence efforts are successful, organizations should collect data and metadata everywhere it is being created. An effective archive tool can significantly simplify management of data across on-premises, cloud and hybrid environments.


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