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The more things change, the more data stays the same

Created: 22 Jul 2012 • Updated: 25 Jun 2013
Neal Watkins's picture
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St. Paul’s Cathedral has dominated the London skyline for more than 300 years, while almost everything around it has changed. From the street to the Shard, the traffic to the tourists, it’s all new, while the Cathedral has stayed the same. The same is true of the data that dominates our lives.

Although you might think data is constantly changing, it remains the one invariable in a dynamic IT landscape. Anyone the wrong side of 40 will remember the different eras of IT. First we had the mainframe period, then the dawn of the PC, followed by the brief, bright light of client/server computing. Next came the Internet and collaborative computing. Throughout the last 30 years, the bedrock of all those eras has been data. Yes, there’s more of it—unstoppable amounts in fact—but it’s always been there, always needed to be protected, secured, and kept available.

Right now, we’re in the post-PC era, where everything is Cloud-enabled, and if an application isn’t written for a browser, it’s probably dead before it starts. We also have the Internet of Things, whereby you’ll soon be able to Google your home to find your child’s lost toy, or remotely turning on the tumble dryer for yet another cycle—after it has texted you that the clothes were still damp.

Data is at the heart of all these interactions. It’s become the currency of the 21st Century.

The challenge for all of us in technology isn’t the evolution of these eras—let’s face it, we all got through the Y2K Bug and BYOD is just another test of our skills. Instead, the biggest challenge of all is the data itself. We live in a device-agnostic world where it’s the information that matters, not what it resides on.

We need to look after data. We must secure and manage it against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently—all the way from securing a consumer’s online identity and interactions to protecting an organisation’s mission-critical data.

After all, leaving data unprotected would be like building St. Paul’s Cathedral without foundations, or not putting a roof on it.