Listen carefully. Do you hear it? That eerie hissing noise? It’s not a plumbing issue. It’s the sound of your data — growing exponentially by the nanosecond. With every breath and every blink of an eye, your data continues to grow, subtly yet inexorably. Think snow: The flakes fly, first one, and then another, and another, then grow to a torrent seemingly before your eyes. What was a clear, clean sidewalk has swiftly become a mountain of white stuff. It’s a lot like data: You know it’s collecting, yet when you turn your concentration to other things, suddenly you find you’re buried in information.
Whatever business you run, product or service you provide, data growth is a fact of your life. How it affects your life and your bottom line has everything to do with how you assess your data storage needs, and how effectively you respond to data expansion within your organization. Like snow, even the most accurate forecast won’t solve your shoveling problem unless you’re proactive about handling it.
How did it ever get this way with data? It’s simple, and it isn’t. First, almost every organization has an insatiable appetite for data. We crave it, create it, store it, scrutinize it, and continue to make more of it. In fact, the prestigious research company Gartner, Inc., points out that the average IT department’s data grows at the incredible rate of 40% per year. By this accounting, your storage capacity will need to double over the next year to 18 months!
Why so much data? A few reasons. First, new applications mean greater data storage requirements. And new devices also translate to greater data capacity. In the Dark Ages of data (meaning prior to the year 2000), data was generated chiefly in four areas: production and finance; network file server data; email; and Web site data. Backup was simple and superficial; data was stored on low-capacity tapes. Recovery was also rudimentary — consisting of a bare metal restore from a backup tape. Options for high availability switchovers or continuous backup and recovery software were virtually nil.
Along came the mobile revolution in the form of smartphones and tablets, with commensurate mobile apps. Data use skyrocketed, and continues to do so. In fact, in 2017 companies will process huge quantities of data for applications that didn’t even exist at the arrival of the new millennium. Aside from mobile apps, this new data will be generated from social media, business intelligence, video content, as well as from sensor and tracking data applications.
Data has also grown as a result of organic business growth and growth through acquisition. As organizations expand so do their storage needs, as data needs shift to accommodate new employees, departments, and business functions. All businesses want more information on present and prospective customers; that means an even greater preponderance of data in the form of buying habits, personal information, etc.
Like a desert cactus that grows without rainfall, so too is the case with data. Merely storing data causes it to multiply. Data sets and applications are frequently duplicated for backup, high availability, and disaster recovery. Businesses that must comply with regulatory requirements face additional data storage issues. Organizations are today required to keep massive amounts of information on employee health insurance, credit card processing, and routine human resources data.
Finally, there’s the issue of unstructured data. Content today is sold as its own product. For example, video is often taken from multiple sources throughout a customer’s place of business. That data, in the form of still and moving images, is used for marketing purposes, as well as for historical documentation, product demonstration, customer service, corporate presentations, Webinars, and more. This only exacerbates the issues of data acquisition and storage.
With all of these sources of data, what is the net effect on your business? It all comes down to dollars and cents. Time is money, and so is the space where data resides. There’s a cost for storing, handling, backing up, and safeguarding data on old systems and new; the greater the quantity, the more outmoded the storage system, the higher the cost. Costs for data growth and storage can mount in the following ways:
Older storage disks and SANS, or Storage Area Networks, require ongoing support as they remain in operation. Hardware and maintenance costs for older storage methods can soar as parts become increasingly scarce and disks less efficient. It all adds up to… Added outlays for less-optimal storage devices. There are added administrative costs as well; older systems require personnel with specific skills for overseeing SANs, disk arrays and conventional hard drives.
The more storage systems you maintain, the more expensive it will be. Big surprise there! When applications and users need to cross from one system to the next, it means greater complexity. This translates to more time trying to access data, and less time actually using it. In addition, as data grows processing time slows down. Larger files can grind processing to a crawl. Archiving can help, but added time will still be spent to maintain and update the data.
If you have a Service Level Agreement (SLA), more data on older systems will mean greater difficulty in abiding by your agreement; you may need to expend more resources to meet your obligations. Additionally, if you keep a considerable amount of siloed data, your storage infrastructure can become obsolete faster. Your hard drive arrays might not accommodate present-day storage needs, and older arrays may need replacement. The bottom line here: Rapid data growth makes scaling your business considerably harder — and more expensive.
Lastly, and not insignificantly, increased data means that disaster recovery and high-availability planning become harder and costlier. Running multiple systems means that your organization needs a serious backup plan for each critical application and its accompanying data. This multiplier effect increases your backup, disaster recovery and high-availability storage costs.
In short, failing to accommodate the explosion of data can wreak havoc on your organization. Systems become more cumbersome, processing slows down, retrieval is hit and miss, and dollars fly out the door as data wends its way through an inefficient network. What’s the optimal solution? Cloud migration is the smart, cost-effective and data-saving solution to today’s storage conundrums. Think of it as the first warm day of spring after a snowbound winter.
Talk to a SIAS representative today about how to keep your data safe and accessible, while saving a ton of money in the long term. He or she might not be able to change the weather, but what you’ll learn about the benefits of cloud storage will be a breath of fresh air!