Data is indispensable to decision making and a valuable resource for any organization—no matter the size. A recent report from the IDC predicted that the amount of data generated across the globe is all set to increase from 33 zeta bytes to 175 zeta bytes by 2025. However, instead of being able use this powerful asset, organizations have become paralyzed with managing the data. A massive amount of data is currently stored on cloud and on-premises locations, residing in infrastructure silos that are not integrated, organized or easy to access.

The IT industry deals with a large amount of data, both on-premise and in remote locations, which makes managing a complete storage setup a challenge. The proliferation of data across individual management systems, silos, clouds, and locations is known as data fragmentation. In the case of IT companies, that have hundreds of bytes of data over their complete infrastructure, this phenomenon is called Mass Data Fragmentation (MDF).

If MDF is giving you sleepless nights, you are not the only one. IT leaders and CIOs across the globe are concerned about MDF. Cohesity surveyed 900 business leaders (of companies that have an average revenue of $10.5 billion) across key markets such as UK, US, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan. The vast majority of these leaders consider secondary data to be an expensive bill for storage rather than a competitive asset. The survey found that more than third of organizations currently use six point products to manage their secondary data operations with some using as many as 11 to 15. In the meantime, their data continues to multiply. Almost 63% of organizations have around 4 to 15 copies of the same data. This data is stored across numerous locations, both on-premises and in the public cloud, creating the need for more copies of the same data.

When organizations suffer from a bad case of MDF, they don’t know what data they have, where it is stored, if it’s protected, or if it satisfies any compliance. In a survey of 900 IT decision-makers conducted by Vanson Bourne, 87% of respondents said that they feel their secondary data is dispersed across silos and as time passes it will become more and more difficult to deal with. Most of the world’s data that is stored in a secondary format is primarily used for backups, archives, file shares, analytics, tests, and development. Secondary data makes approximately 80% of an organization’s data. This is a staggering amount, especially since secondary data is just that—secondary, it’s not frequently used. Secondary data remains hidden from tech professionals as they do not know what it consists of, where it is located, or what to do with it. Poor data visibility can lead to a number of challenges such as compliance risks and vulnerabilities.

Businesses today however, are aiming to use analytics and tap into secondary data to drive decision making and innovation. Secondary data, when harnessed, can be segregated on the basis of current company projects. A further analysis of segmented data can offer an overview of consumer applications and guide decision makers towards innovative initiatives. It offers a competitive advantage that successful digital-first businesses can actually count on. But to solve a problem, we must know how to identify it.

MDF can occur in various ways:

1. Fragmentation of silos in the sphere of tech: IT operations, particularly secondary operations, such as backups, file sharing, information storage, and analytics are usually done in separate silos to begin with. These silos neither share data or resources, nor have any central visibility or control. This fragmentation at the point of origin itself leads to overprovisioning/waste, making it difficult to adhere to service-level agreements (SLAs) or availability targets.

2. Data fragmentation within silos: Within dedicated silos, data can be further duplicated and distorted. For example, for backup you utilize four to five separate data backup solutions from different vendors to handle workloads such as virtual, cloud, and database. Each solution needs its own associated storage, de-dupe appliances, media servers, and more; making the whole situation worse.

3. Data copies: Zeus Kerravala, Founder and principal analyst with ZK Research, estimated that up to 60 % of secondary data storage is been occupied by copies of files. What makes this data irrelevant is that these scattered data copies cannot be re-purposed for other use cases such as analytics, tests, or development. Companies that do not have data quality initiatives may have a 10-30% duplication rate. Ensuring that the right data is accessible to the right people eliminates unnecessary data copies, reducing operational costs and the risk of violating data compliance.

Taming the MDF beast

While the above mentioned points may seem unavoidable, but Mass Data Fragmentation (MDF) is controllable and businesses can use technology to improve data management. Restructuring data storage can save a secondary data center from becoming a liability and turn it into an asset. 

1. The use of singularized secondary storage solutions for backup, file sharing, test/ development, archiving, and analytics eliminates the need for complex and legacy infrastructure. Businesses need to use solutions that sync the current siloed infrastructure into single system that can be easily accessed.

2. Using applications that run across silos can help companies access most of the information stored in silos that is usually invisible or unreachable. Applications that have been running across various data storage units can be combined together or have a single management solution. Accessing secondary data via applications will generate exponential value for business intelligence and can assist companies to reduce compliance risks.

3. Investing in an open platform so that applications in the app marketplace can be created and customized by the customer or by an ecosystem of partners and ISVs.

Duplication of data has led to large scale data fragmentation, a business needs to use both, tools and strategies, to deal with such requirements of operation. It is time to rethink secondary storage to prevent it from turning into a liability.

To know more, you can download our latest whitepapers on storage solutions.