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Controlling Data Sprawl

Published on 27 March 15

In the world today we have many ways of gathering data points and information that may be relevant to our businesses, our personal lives, or something that we havenât thought of yet. However, that data has grown so exponentially that we are reaching a point where the data is much harder to manage, and as a result the data is less valuable not because it isnât relevant, but because we canât find it! To make matters worse, employees will spend significant amounts of time looking for that data, burning a hole in their productivity, which at the end of the day is detrimental to the bottom line. However, if you can control your data, it can remain the incredibly useful tool that it has the potential of being with todayâs technology.

Of course, in order to control data, controls need to be in place. Giving employees quotas for their storage forces them to determine what information they absolutely need, or to ask for additional storage from IT when they run out. Showing the costs of continue to expand data is an effective tool for department heads, and in worst case scenarios using chargebacks to offset some of those costs to the budgets for the other departments may also be effective in getting the message across. Depending on the organization these might not be options, but they are good places to start to get ideas for how you can control data sprawl in your company.

Data deduplication is another effective tool in managing data - after all, if the employees are going to keep making data, at least you can reduce it down to what is actually unique data! This is a common feature in backup programs, but be sure to confirm that it is present, as not all backup solutions are created equal. This can be extremely value when working directly with the files being created by employees, as many employees tend to keep multiple versions of the same file to track their work.

Of course, it is also important to determine where the data will reside. Depending on the type of data, it might make sense to store it on a private dedicated machine, or on a virtual machine dedicated to the department in question. Regardless of the final decision that takes place, IT can then manage the infrastructure created for the organization and they can truly track what data comes from where, and they can even begin to investigate as to why certain departments are data hogs and others are much lighter.

Just like backups, departments aren't created equally, and giving the same quota to everyone is going to be a mistake, as data need will be different for a sales person as opposed to an accountant. You might expect marketing to have heavy storage needs, for example, as they need to save many video files that they edit for YouTube. Sales, however, might need a large amount of storage or a variety of reasons, such as customer collateral, copies of signed contracts, and more. The only way to determine this is to have a way to track data creation down, which is much easier when each group has a dedicated space.
This blog is listed under Data & Information Management and Server & Storage Management Community

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