Enterprise data management strategy guide for CIOs

Does your organization have a reliable enterprise data management strategy? Learn about storage options, enterprise application architecture and why paranoia is a good thing.

With mountains of electronic data begging for retention, organizations today have more data to manage than ever.

A proper enterprise data management strategy is a crucial component of compliance programs: If you fail to establish one, there will be consequences.

In this guide, learn how to establish an enterprise data management strategy that fits your organization, and why a little paranoia can be a good thing. You'll also find tips on enterprise data management storage and learn why an enterprise application architecture isn't quite so passé after all.

This guide is part of SearchCIO.com's CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic guidance and advice that addresses the management and decision-making aspects of timely topics. For a complete list of the topics covered to date, visit the CIO Briefings section of the website.

Why do I need an enterprise data management strategy?

Asked about his organization's data protection strategy, Dan Zinn pauses for a beat before responding, "guns." And because he's the CIO of the 15th Judicial Circuit of the Florida State Attorney's Office, that's partially true.

"It's kind of interesting, because we've always been very careful with data protection," Zinn said seriously. "Physically, our location is a perfect target for a car bomb. I've always kept that potential in mind -- that someone could roll in a van and take out the building."

And because he also can see the ocean over the flat terrain of West Palm Beach, Zinn is well aware that a tsunami or hurricane could be a big problem. "A Category 5 will empty this building," he said. Zinn explained that, in facing such natural and unnatural threats to data security, he looks at two levels of data protection: from extreme disasters (a tsunami or an explosion) and from hurricanes, which you have time to plan for. "That is our worst-case scenario," he added. To cover both levels, he recently switched from a weekly tape backup service provided by Iron Mountain Inc. to cloud-based storage offered by Iron Mountain and CommVault Systems Inc.

"Next in data protection is, how do you protect it with encryption? -- not so much on the servers, but any time tapes or data is in transit," Zinn said. So the cloud -- not guns -- is his real data protection strategy. The solution has its challenges, however: In the 15th Judicial Circuit, an increasing number of cases are being prosecuted. That leads to more individual files and larger files; and those in turn have a drastic effect on the throughput of information.

Learn more in "When it comes to a data protection strategy, paranoia is a good thing." Also:

Which data management policies should I put into place?

Nevada's Clark County is the fastest-growing county in the country, issuing building permits for the Vegas strip about as often as marriage licenses -- which is a lot, considering that 10,000 people a month say "I do" there. Yet as recently as four years ago, the county didn't have a formal data management strategy in place.

Also experiencing significant data growth is the merchandising unit for all of Macy's private brands -- including INC, The Cellar and Greendog. The unit saves as images such detailed specifications as pants measurements or dishware dimensions, a procedure that has pushed its data storage growth rate to between 100% and 150% as it moves into 2011, compared with a 20% growth rate this year.

Organizations usually would throw more storage at such problems -- an approach that is neither cost-effective nor helpful to the development of a long-term data retention plan. Both Clark County and Macy's, however, are tackling the issue by instituting data management policies to ensure that data is easily retrievable, as well as classified and retained properly in the first place.

Learn more in "A data management strategy without policies spells doom." Also:

What's the best data storage management strategy for me?

As we enter the age of metadata -- in which reams of information are collected about application, network and business performance -- corporate data growth is measured in double digits. Add to that the increasing amount of unstructured data -- audio, image and video files -- and it's no wonder that CIOs are looking for cost-effective data storage management.

It isn't just about backup any more, as storage requirements drive demand for software tools and techniques that enable businesses to parse out what's really worth saving. Alongside tried-and-true data storage management methods as archiving and compression, data deduplication has become an industry darling, as has the use of snapshot technology for continuous data protection.

"Backup is all about keeping a copy for a period of time in case you need it," said Lauren Whitehouse, an analyst at The Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass. "How you make that copy is up for grabs right now."

Learn more in "Deduplicate, compress and defray costs of data storage management." Also:

What are the benefits of an information technology architecture?

When I started my career in IT leadership, I couldn't imagine ever needing a terabyte of storage. I figured a terabyte would take care of my organization's storage needs until my grandchildren were working in IT. It's a good thing I never needed a terabyte of storage, because storage back then was awfully expensive.

Thankfully, because our need for storage keeps rising, the cost of storage has dropped dramatically. We just can't get enough. But why is our need for storage increasing? The answer is simple: Every day we all gain access to new sources of data. We have ERP data, which is supplemented by customer relationship management and sales force automation data. Add to that list our e-commerce data and data acquired from outside organizations and from public and private social networks, and you realize: We are swimming, perhaps drowning, in data.

So, what is the best way for me to manage and use this data? I can pretty much guarantee that not all of it is usable or relevant. But how do I know which data to use? Or how do I get to it? Or how do I verify and validate it? Or how do I make it usable? Or how do I put it into the hands of the people who need it? These questions beg for what I call an information architecture.

Learn more in "Information technology architecture is the key to good data management." Also:

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This was first published in December 2010

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