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IT Industry Trends

Information Governance – A Growing Challenge

Created: 02 Nov 2012 • Updated: 03 Jun 2014
petergrimmond's picture
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For many enterprises, managing the growing volumes of data is becoming a major challenge.  Data centre storage volumes continue to grow in excess of 40% per annum.  And this is only the tip of the iceberg: ever more enterprise data is now found not only outside of the datacentre, but outside of the physical boundaries of the enterprise - on laptops, tablets and smartphones - as well as in the Cloud.

Many enterprises now consider unmanaged data growth to be simply unacceptable.  This is evident from the number that are embarking on Information Governance projects.  According to the recent Symantec 2012 State of the Data Center Survey, over 90% of organisations are either actively discussing information governance or have implemented trials or actual governance programs.  In addition, about one-third have already implemented information governance solutions.

But what is driving this focus on information governance?  From my discussions with clients, I believe there are three main drivers:  The first and most critical being risk.  With the proliferation of unstructured data both inside and outside the data centre, organisations have much less control over their information.  They cannot be sure who has access to their information assets and they are struggling to meet their regulatory obligations.

The second driver is value. Enterprises want to exploit the latent value of their information assets.  They want to be able to empower mobile workers by providing them with access to relevant corporate information on the move. They want to collaborate online with partner organisations without the risk of leaking confidential data and they want to open up new online channels to their customers without increasing risk.

The final major driver for information governance is cost.  For many organisations, the increasing volumes of data have become a liability, it is costly to store and manage, and costly to search in the event of litigation.

The most challenging information to manage is that held in unstructured data stores.  Information held in relational databases and other structured stores is typically easier to govern: the value, confidentiality and regulatory sensitivity of the information is easier to determine and access controls are simpler to apply.  However, with unstructured data stores, the attributes of individual information assets can be much harder to determine.  Even identifying the true owner of a particular file can be difficult, let alone determining the nature of the file’s contents, its business relevance or its confidentiality.  And it is typically much harder to stop data in unstructured stores from proliferating to less secure or even hostile locations with files so easily be emailed, copied to a USB drive or moved to the Cloud.

In conclusion, enterprises need to start to get to grips with their unstructured data stores.  But how do they go about it?  This is something I will explore in my next blog.