How to understand and maximise the lifecycle of corporate data

Although data is one of just a handful of core assets within today’s thriving organisations, many businesses make the mistake of storing this important asset in separate silos.

These silos separate it from the possibility of being extracted in a way that is purposeful, and dilute it from its ability to deliver business value. So, the question to ask is simple: where can you start to maximise the lifecycle of your corporate data?

Why do we gather and store data? Because it is valuable, right? Data is valuable, but only if it is leveraged rather than buried. Any piece of information, even a raw dataset, has a lifecycle. This could involve data collection, visualisation and interpretation. It might be stored, retrieved, audited and logged. It may end up being archived or even deleted.

>See also: Why the editor of The Times kicked News UK’s big data chief out of his office

But at each stage of the cycle, this data has some kind of value to the business – and it needs to be analysed throughout its lifecycle to become usable, insightful information. Therefore its integrity, availability and security should be ensured.

It’s for these reasons that organisations should implement a relevant and sound data protection and governance strategy. If you don’t protect data you cannot do much with it.

With cloud storage becoming more and more widespread, traditional siloes are breaking down and a new trend towards converging data is rising, providing new opportunities to examine the data in much more detail. And examining the data can only be done though if that data is can be retrieved effectively and securely.

Organisations tend to treat backup like it’s a safe that should only be opened when data needs to be recovered. Instead, businesses can do far more with the data they own and collect by keeping it active.

But it can be difficult to get the most from data, which brings businesses to the next stage in the data lifecycle: archiving data effectively. This means being able to retrieve archived data easily in order to analyse it.

Archival and analytical tools are both crucial but evolve along parallel paths – they concentrate on solving a single problem independently of each other. But the reality is that they often can, and should, overlap.

People in IT we are wary of this, not least because they pay a premium for maintaining multiple siloes. Now, thanks to cloud computing, they’re starting to combine these tools and converge data protection and analytics processes into a single place.

This is where a data lifecycle should begin, but often doesn’t: with a converged architecture. But how do businesses put it in place? What are the critical building blocks? To start, archived data must be a chronological record of events and include metatags that make it easily, quickly and effectively searchable.

While this has been the goal of IT administrators for some time, it was seldom achieved and usually involved huge amounts of laborious filing. Previously, legacy technology limitations meant software was designed to deliver only a single value. Backup was on tape and tape failed to meet the need for clean and speedy data retrieval.

Today is another story. Contemporary technology allows organisations to leverage data in new ways. Cloud computing, which provides users with access anywhere and at anytime, has revolutionised the workplace. The IT industry is far better than it was at meeting other challenges, such as fool-proof data collection processes, time-indexing data, deduplication to build structure, and lower costs for long-term data preservation.

>See also: The CISO’s pre-EU data protection regulation checklist

Businesses still have some way to go though and the industry has yet to resolve all the kinks in the data lifecycle process. A basic key challenge is keeping down the price of preserving data, while more complex issues such as algorithms for data mining and availability remain to be resolved.

What lies at the heart of the data lifecycle is the human element. Storing and protecting information is vital but, more than that, maximising data by interpreting, analysing and acting upon it at each of the lifecycle stages is what makes it valuable in the first place. All too often businesses overlook this.


Sourced from Jaspreet Singh, CEO, Druva

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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