Last week, we introduced our first topic of our four-part series – Streamlining Unstructured Data Storage. There, we addressed some of the benefits your organization can realize value by better-managing unstructured data. This week, we will continue our series on self-evaluation to help your organization eliminate hidden costs with system and process redundancy, post-cloud adoption.
Week 1. Streamlining Unstructured Data Storage
Week 2. The Aftermath of a Cloud Technology Adoption
Week 3. Legacy System & Data Management
Week 4. Business Impact Analysis of Social Distancing
The Aftermath of a Cloud Technology Adoption:
According to a recent report by BitGlass and published in Business Wire Magazine, 86% of organizations have adopted cloud-hosted technologies. Surprised? Neither are we. The more interesting statistic to us is that this number is trending upward from just 26% of companies that had adopted cloud technologies in 2013, which indicates that companies have gone through a significant amount of change in a relatively short period of time.
Cloud adoptions have been driven by multiple factors, some of which include minimization of operational IT expenses, mitigation of on-prem security challenges and improving scalability and redundancy. In last week’s blog, we focused on the “storage conundrum” and the fact that many companies are attempting to address storage growth by migrating data to the cloud where storage is cheap and plentiful. With companies like Microsoft and Google offering large storage volumes for each user, storage limitations and restrictions have been all but completely abolished in most organizations. It is our experience that frequently organizations will adopt these new cloud-centric technologies and storage platforms with limited guidance to users. Instead, the messaging goes something like this: “Here is your new email inbox in the cloud- you will never be restricted from sending messages due to storage limitations again” or “here is your new OneDrive- don’t worry you will never fill it up”.
As with any new process adoption, there can be challenges here. Turning on cloud-based technologies without a proper enablement and planning strategy creates a significant amount of risk for data leakage and data proliferation scenarios. Unfortunately, in many cases, migrating to the cloud is simply a “lift and shift.” Problems are then transitioned from one platform to another and in many ways the issue is exacerbated.
Lift and Shift Cloud Adoption
Many companies have chosen the “lift and shift” approach to cloud, so if you find yourself in this position, rest assured that you are not alone. Critical business records that were once lost in a pile of documents on a file share, in email or on a SharePoint site, are now just as lost in the new model. What’s worse is that 80% of organizations that migrate data to the cloud do not eliminate the on-premise source of the data and instead treat that copy as an insurance policy of sorts. In addition, very few offer the user population any kind of guidance as to how and where to store critical assets. Therefore, the tendency unstructured data is now simply proliferated throughout a number of new sources with no real management plan. Users store multiple versions of the same file locally and in the cloud, therefore making the challenge of understanding a once complicated on-premise data set compounded.
In order to combat these challenges, organizations must address the following 3 objectives:
1) Create a Data Storage Plan: Even if you’ve already migrated the data, ensuring that your organization has a plan for where to store critical business records is vital. In most clients we see five (5) to ten (10) repositories for these types of records including: Local “My Documents” Folders, On-Premise User File Shares, On-Premise Department File Shares, Outbound SFTP or ShareFile repositories, On-Premise SharePoint, On-Premise systems of Record (Contracts, Image Repositories, etc.), SharePoint Online, OneDrive/Google Drive and the list goes on. It’s no wonder that users have such a hard time keeping up with critical documents and assets. Our advice is to start simple. Ensure that your strategy addresses storage locations for items such as:
Business records and Operational records
Personal work products
Collaborative work products
Offline document storage
Communication and sharing work products both internally and externally
Having a proper data storage plan and removing deprecated on-premise solutions, which perform the same function, not only saves costs but also has a drastic impact on organizational operations and efficiencies.
2) Utilize cloud-based data classification: Without a high-end scanning solution, trying to organize and classify your on-premise data can be a challenge. Many of the cloud solutions on the market today address the basic classification needs to get organizations started. Utilizing solutions like Amazon’s Macie tool, Google Vault or the Microsoft Compliance Center is a quick and easy way to begin getting a handle on your unstructured data assets once your data transitions into a cloud platform. Organizations should find that the task is much easier now that the data has all been migrated into one specific container. In many ways it is the vision that Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions have had for years, which was to get all content under one umbrella so that it could be governed according to organizational policy. With cloud data migrations, this has now become possible. To make it all work, organizations must become educated on how to incorporate their existing classification and retention policies into their new cloud environment.
3) Implement defensible disposition: If you read our blog last week, this may sound like a bit of recycled material; however, we cannot stress the importance of implementing defensible disposition within your new cloud environments. It will pay significant dividends by way of reducing management costs and overhead, as well as significantly decrease eDiscovery spending. Again, our recommendation here is to start simple. Focus on legacy data that is easily identified as being out of compliance with your organization’s retention schedule. Implement a high-level classification policy that can become more sophisticated over time. The road to governing and defensibly disposing data is one that is not traveled in a day or even a year. The important step is starting the journey.
So, What’s the ROI?
Operational cost savings can be easily realized as part of your cloud data migration process. Utilize data classification and defensible disposition within your new cloud environment to help address data bloat and Redundant, Obsolete & Trivial (ROT) data. If you find yourself holding onto systems as a means of a disaster recovery plan, consider converting that data to tape and properly archiving if necessary. Doing so will free up your on-premise infrastructure for other business needs or allow it to be sunset, thereby realizing additional cost savings. Last but not least, consider what cloud-based applications can be adopted in lieu of current on-premise solutions. Typically, this is most prevalent in the collaboration tool space where, despite the fact that new cloud tools exist, on-premise solutions are still used to minimize the impact to business operations.
If you are ready to get started on your cloud data governance plan, but aren’t sure where to start, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We have helped numerous organizations get started on their cloud governance journey and would be excited to have the opportunity to conduct a discovery workshop to help get you started as well.