Improve your company’s data management and protection

While data is becoming recognised as an organisation’s most important digital asset, coupled with the rapid rate at which data volumes are growing, business leaders in South Africa need to take action now to reduce their ‘Databergs’ to avoid spiralling future data management costs and the risk of sweeping sanctions, according to new research carried out by Veritas Technologies, the worldwide market share leader in enterprise data protection.

Veritas Technologies carried out a survey which was conducted by Positive Marketing with approximately 100 IT decision makers and data managers in South Africa. It revealed that South African organisations are beginning to take control of both their clean data (data which has been tagged and classified) and dark data (data whose value has not yet been identified, it may include business critical data as well as useless ROT data). From 10% in 2016, the amount of clean data held by South African organisations has almost tripled and now occupies 28% of stored data, 14% above the global average. Furthermore, on a positive note dark data has fallen to 13% below the global average.

Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial (ROT) data, however, which is known to be of low or no value, has only fallen 1% since last reported, which still makes up to 31%, almost equal to the global average of 32%. South African organisations need to pay close attention to ROT data even though some progress has been made. The survey also reveals that the average South African organisation has just 10% of its data tagged as Business Critical or clean data which has a recognisable business value, as compared to an EMEA average of 14%. Organisations have done a great job of tagging data, however, almost a third is data they know they don’t need.

The survey also reveals that in 2016, the majority of South African organisations – 52% – calculate the cost of storing and processing data by its business value. Size or the volume of data, however, has now overtaken the business value as the main consideration for IT executives buying new storage, with this figure rising from 41% to 56%.

Allocating budget on the volume of data rather than business value is not best practice but organisations are struggling to keep up with the huge growth in data. (IDC forecasts this to be 44zb next year which will increase to 163zb in EMEA by 2026). Again, the risk is South African organisations are wasting IT budget on storing unnecessary ROT or unknown dark data.

Currently the data for 39% of South African organisations is stored in the cloud, 9% less than what organisations predicted would be stored in the cloud two years ago. 89% of South African organisations want to adopt cloud services, however the cost of the adoption is hindered by contradicting views. On the one hand, 73% of organisations want to adopt the cloud to reduce backup and recovery costs, yet cost still seems to be a hurdle. 39% are concerned about the increasing cost over time when moving to the cloud. The degree of concerns about cloud adoption vary by job function.

Over half of Operations Directors, 52%, and 48% of IT Directors are concerned with increasing costs, whereas only 13% of CIOs are concerned about increasing costs over time. Perhaps CIOs are less aware than more junior and digital IT executives who have more direct experience of the cost of cloud implementations.

The survey also highlighted that financial firms in South Africa are confused about the move from old, expensive disk and tape devices, to the cloud. Over half, 56%, continue to store long-term data on primary devices as they believe these are more secure than the cloud. This belief is reflected further in the 67% of organisations whose main concern is security, double the 33% who are mainly concerned about the cost of moving to the cloud.

Testing the disaster recovery ability of its IT services has been side-lined in many South African organisations. If anything, disaster recovery is tested less frequently now than before. This is a worry because learning your disaster recovery has failed in a live situation is the real disaster.

From two years ago, organisations testing disaster recovery every six months has risen by 15%, most prominently in the finance and retail industries at 44%. Whereas, testing once a quarter has fallen by 13%. This means that although their cost-conscious culture is saving organisations’ money, security is being compromised.

David Mc Murdo, Regional Director, Veritas Technologies – South Africa, says, “whilst South African organisations are becoming more aware of the need to take control of their dark data, the rate at which data is growing is making it increasingly difficult for organisations to keep up with balancing clean data and dark data. Organisations need to realise the cost saving benefits of deleting stored data that is not being utilised. South African businesses are starting to put measures in place to stop the accumulation of dark data through the use of IT polices, workable information, governance, as well as setting up procedures to control how employees are handling company data.