By Nick Wonfor, Country Manager, Sub Saharan Africa at CommVault
By now, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is something you’ve heard before. In fact, a recent Morgan Stanley report predicts that the number of devices connected to the IoT will reach 75 billion by the year 2020. The IoT is a staggering concept that ranges from daily chatter about the newest Internet-enabled devices to the amount of data these devices produce and where to keep it, even in the cloud. The mountain of information these devices create is forcing companies to rethink how to securely capture, store and retrieve data to derive more value from it. To address this problem, companies are coming around to the notion that instead of hoarding data, they need a modern data management strategy to make better business decisions, evolve products and services and improve the user experience.
Today, a company’s data no longer just sits securely within one location, it’s everywhere. In a survey of 4,000 corporate employees who handle or distribute information, 80 percent report needing access to data from outside the office and 60 percent are working from a remote location. Similarly, according to Gartner, 62 percent of organisations still do not utilise any specific tools to help them understand and make decisions on the retention and management of their unstructured data, which includes content produced by the mobile workforce in the form of emails, video files and images.
The IoT is definitely impacting the South African market, particularly with regards to data growth and the amount of storage required to store this data. This has resulted in increased IT costs within many local organisations. Furthermore, the distribution of data across various locations as well as on remote devices put clients at risk from a compliance perspective in terms of critical private company data. Organisations are not aware of what data is stored, where it resides, how it needs to be managed and how to report on the data in a distributed environment. This creates challenges for companies, specifically with regards to the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act.
The IoT adds new urgency, but also complexity, when it comes to managing data throughout its lifecycle. Enterprises need to plan holistically and consider the sources of data and how data will be used so they can design policies for what to keep, where to keep it and for how long. Storage and cloud costs are decreasing, but not fast enough to keep up with data growth. The old ‘keep everything, and keep it local’ strategy isn’t cutting it anymore, and the new reality for information managers is that every piece of data is not equal in value. ‘For example, ‘dark data’, which is typically files, presentations, reports, images, and emails that are stockpiled but not analysed, used or otherwise monetised. Dark data not only consumes valuable storage, network and management resources, it increases liability unless proactively purged using pre-established criteria for defensible deletion.
Storing IoT data indiscriminately long term is wasteful and not cheap, and prevents businesses from easily finding what they need. Here are three ways enterprises can more efficiently manage IoT using modern techniques:
Use automated methods for organising and retaining data based on the content.
Content-aware retention uses intelligence about data including type, where it was created and the last time it was accessed, to index and classify it. Policies can provide specific rules, such as collecting all documents related to an engineering project, to automatically move relevant data to more cost-effective storage. By understanding how data flows through the company, managers can keep what is valuable and get rid of what isn’t, reducing the costs and risks. Intelligent archiving technologies, such as content-based retention, can save organisations up to 70 percent in storage capacity and costs. This is especially valuable for highly regulated industries, like healthcare and financial services, that must store data for seven or more years for compliance and quickly retrieve it when required.
Securely consolidate IoT data regardless of where it came from or where it’s kept.
Powerful smart devices and remote work environments allow people to always stay connected and have made them accustomed to using consumer cloud services outside of their company’s control. Efficient IoT management starts with consolidating data from individual users and devices where it can be backed up, then securely accessed. Instead of being locked away in remote vaults, data is available to more users. Redundant copies can be deleted through a process called deduplication, to further improve efficiency.
Offer new ways to access information, be productive and add value.
Once a company’s data is consolidated from servers, laptops, mobile devices and remote offices, the IoT offers new ways to be more productive. Content indexing enables IT, legal and business units to search across the enterprise using granular keywords. New access methods, such as file sync and mobile applications (apps), allow employees to create personal data clouds and quickly find, view and use documents among their devices. After all, a sales proposal that’s only stored on an account executive’s laptop is not only at risk for loss or hardware failure, it’s also unavailable to the customer or colleagues when the Account Executive (AE) is traveling or offline.
The Internet of Things continues to grow and so does the volume of data. Companies should act now to develop a strategy to efficiently protect, manage and access it so they can create new insights. Being able to intelligently index business data, automate policies for content-based retention and deletion, and deliver secure access are key milestones along the journey. By harnessing, not hoarding, IoT data, organisations can reduce storage space, increase productivity and gain real-time visibility into their operations.