Big Data Todd Goldman March 28, 2017

It’s time to look in the mirror and confess, “I am a data hoarder, and I need help.”

Data hoarding organizations like yours are risking too much.  It’s time for hoarding organizations to shut down their data museums.


Save, save, save! Just like the used car salesman shouting out to you through your TV, for years, data storage vendors have been pressing organizations to hold onto all the data they can. It’s cheap, they reason, and the hidden value you eventually unlock could pay off in spades.


It’s true. It costs less to store data now than it did in 2005. But due to the inefficiencies most organizations bring to their management of stored data keeping it around comes with a much bigger price tag than they realize. Not to mention the astronomical security, compliance, legal, reputation and other risks that come with all that unclassified and ungoverned dark data, which continues to flood the enterprise with little oversight.


According to a recent Veritas survey of 10,000 IT decision makers, 73% of respondents admitted storing data that could harm their organizations. 86% admit their data hoarding would probably increase the time it takes to respond to a data breach. These are amazing revelations because they suggest that most organizations are knowingly taking on too much risk.


Yes, I’m of course a big fan of finding all the valuable needles in the haystack—this is one of the core things that Waterline Data helps organizations do. So we’re all for saving as much data as you can as long as it’s being done within reasonable, pre-set parameters.


But the bottom line is, all that data you’re storing can not only come back to hurt you, it can get in the way of the reason you’re hoarding it in the first place. As Pat Burke wrote last summer in CIO Insight, “It’s time to cull unnecessary data before it impedes analysts from finding real value in an organization’s data.” I wholeheartedly agree—especially since most of the data organizations retain is either redundant, meaningless, or just too old.


So what can companies that are addicted to hoarding data do about this problem?


#1: Admit you have a problem.


#2. Catalog your data—tag it by category and assign retention periods for each. Once those periods are up, discard or at least format it so it’s within reach but still out of the way.


#3. Identify “non-hot” data that can be offloaded into less expensive storage or eliminated altogether, like cold or redundant data.


#4: Determine whether certain data should be collected in the first place and create a process to prevent such data from touching the network in the future.


#5. Cut down on the creation of redundant data, identify data that can be either overwritten or left alone instead of constantly duplicated through back-ups.


#6. Know which data is allowed to be discarded after a certain time by whatever regulations you must adhere to. Discard any useless data that falls under this umbrella as soon as you can.


#7. Encrypt your data. As I’ve written before, you may not be ready to catalog your data, but if it’s not properly secured, you can bet there are hackers out there who are more than happy to do the job for you.


These of course are just a few steps you can take to keep the risks and costs of data storage in check.


You don’t want to throw away your Holy Grail, but all the data you store could eventually get in the way of you ever finding it. So, come on, folks. I know you love your data museums, but it’s time to shut them down.