BYOD continues to attract considerable attention, but the proliferation of machines now being used in businesses of all sizes is exacerbating the problem of data fragmentation to a degree that is becoming hard to ignore.
This is creating security challenges for organisations with which the channel can help.
A survey by Freeform Dynamics details the vast range of IT equipment that now holds company data. As might be expected, a majority of survey respondents reported that, in addition to company desktops and laptops, home PCs are used to hold corporate data, even if only for short periods of time.
Many already recognise that mobile devices and consumer cloud services are being used, illustrating the breadth of the challenge IT now faces.
When questioned explicitly concerning issues arising from data fragmentation, a number of pain points were revealed.
We found that many IT professionals are concerned by the risk of data fragmentation.
Various security issues were highlighted, although the decision making and employee productivity impacts are seen to be at least as important.
Copyright Freeform Dynamics 2013. All rights reserved
This reflects other Freeform research which shows a majority of businesses believe they do not exploit the data they hold as effectively as they could.
The factors most widely seen as significant challenges relate directly to the cost of storing and managing rapidly growing volumes of data across an expanding range of systems. This includes systems directly administered by IT and those that may be outside central management.
Only a tiny number of respondents said they have adequate policies or procedures to control where corporate data is stored.
So there are multiple opportunities for channel organisations to help customers. Many of the areas of greatest promise can be deduced from looking at the responses of an "elite" set of survey respondents.
This group comprised those found to be most effective at managing and exploiting information and the related risks. The elite subset identified a few key steps that would help minimise the costs and risks arising from data fragmentation. Each step is well suited to channel engagement via the delivery of relevant solutions and services.
Top of the best practices was to identify where different categories of data are stored. The discovery and classification of data are tasks well suited to modern storage and asset management tools - combined with good practice. Ensure you proceed step by step, so the customer can quickly see the benefits.
Focus then on making sure the customer implements policies that cover where on internal systems, privately owned devices and public cloud services the different classes of data should or should not be held. Ensure users, especially senior managers and business line executives, are not only aware of the policies but understand why these policies exist.
Copyright Freeform Dynamics 2013. All rights reserved.
Data discovery and classification may also identify opportunities to rationalise and consolidate the underlying storage infrastructure, as well as highlight areas where data protection should be enhanced.
The business case for some of these steps, most notably the consolidation of storage platforms, can be quite straightforward. Equally, there may be a good case for an active archive that can help minimise the costs associated with primary storage growth.
The bottom line is that data fragmentation is causing pain and concern, which presents a range of possible entry points into new business accounts, and a lot of cross-selling opportunity thereafter.
Tony Lock is programme director at Freeform Dynamics
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