Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Tangled Weave of Information Management

In the latest issue of CIO, Michael Friedenberg wrote an article (entitled "The Cost of Data Management") which discusses the challenges facing organizations given the explosion in information.
Friedenberg cites a well recited factoid that, while the cost of storage continues to fall, the cost of managing that information keeps rising.

But what does it mean to manage information? As I indicated in a prior blog post (entitled "Avoiding the Information Management Train Wreck"), in order to effectively manage information, companies must:

  • Ensure that information is preserved according to regulations (e.g., HIPAA, PCI DSS, GLBA, etc.)
  • Ensure that sensitive information properly protected
  • Ensure that information is managed according to retention and disposition schedules
  • Ensure that information is cataloged so that it can be ready for electronic discovery
  • Ensure that information is indexed so that it can be available for enterprise search
Friedenberg identifies the key factors impacting the growth of information within the enterprise. These include:
  • Security log files - Driven by compliance mandates, companies now record all user file access activity in raw form.
  • Network and system events - By default, modern systems log everything, while enterprises still struggle to make better use of this unstructured data.
  • Multimedia - From training videos, podcasts and medical images to multimedia communication, media of all sorts pour onto storage servers daily.
  • Transaction records - All that structured transaction data has to be readily accessible for business intelligence and other uses.
  • E-mail and other messages - E-discovery legal requirements call for all sorts of communications to be archived and available.
To respond to these challenges, the "Who's Who" of computing (including IBM, EMC, Symantec, CA, Microsoft, Oracle, HP, Google and others) provide a set of solutions to help companies better find, protect, share, store, purge, backup and archive their information.

Unfortunately, these solutions are largely cobbled together (typically from acquisitions) and do not scale to manage all information holistically. So, a company either needs to purchase and deploy multiple solutions (which is quite expensive) or accept the risk that some of its information will not be completely managed (which can also be quite expensive).

What's next for Information Management? As Friedenberg concludes, while managing information is "no easy task", it is clearly becoming a higher priority in corporate America. Because of this, I expect further consolidation in the industry as the major players increase their focus on holistic information management solutions.

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