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Enterprises are Hoarding ‘Dark’ Data: Veritas

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Enterprises, particularly those in the U.K., have a massive storage management blind spot.

Veritas, the backup and recovery company spun out of Symantec, has released its Databerg Report 2015 for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). For CIOs and storage administrators, it contains plenty of scares that have nothing to do with Halloween.

Like icebergs, which are a hazard to seafaring vessels, a ‘databerg’ consists of three types of data. There’s the tip of the databerg, the business-critical data that’s typically accounted for and well-managed. Then comes redundant, obsolete or trivial (ROT) data that needs to be goaded into deletion. Finally, dark data is lurks in the deep and can be a mix of business-critical, ROT and unsanctioned data.

In a Veritas-sponsored survey conducted by Vanson Bourne, 1,475 respondents painted a troubling picture of their databergs and the costs to keep them afloat.

On average, the storage environments of EMEA organizations consist of 54 percent dark data, 32 percent ROT data and 14 percent business-critical data. By 2020, this can add up to $891 billion in storage and management costs that can otherwise be avoided.

Some of the worst offenders are enterprises in the U.K.

“The study reveals that one in three companies in the UK store Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial (ROT) data in their corporate networks,” said Matthew Ellard, senior vice president EMEA at Veritas, in a statement. “A typical midsize company with 500 terabytes of data wastes nearly a million pounds [$1.5 million] each year maintaining trivial files, including photos, personal ID documents, music and videos.”

Fifty-nine percent of data stored and processed by businesses in the U.K. can be classified as dark data, second only to Germany (66 percent). Only 12 percent of the data in these organizations can be considered business critical. The average midsize U.K. company with a petabyte of storage is spending nearly $670,000 on redundant, obsolete or trivial data that can be safely deleted.

Databergs are caused, in part, by employees’ free-wheeling attitudes toward corporate data policies. “They store unstructured data from personal photos, stored by 57 percent of employees, to personal ID and legal documents by 53 percent, as well as music, games and videos, stored by 45 percent, 43 percent and 29 percent respectively,” stated the report.

IT executives and managers also shoulder some of the blame, mainly for basing their storage strategies, budgets and buying decisions on data volume rather than its value. Also contributing to the problem is the lure of free cloud file sync and share services, which can enhance employee collaboration at the expense of IT oversight and potentially trigger compliance violations.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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