Getting to Grips with One’s Data Needs

February 19, 20210

The legend goes that in 1981 Microsoft founder and CEO, Bill Gates, was quoted as saying that 640K of memory ought to be enough for anybody. 

Admittedly, that was in 1981, a time when PCs were extremely expensive and were yet to become as mainstream as they are these days. In addition, he was referring to memory, and not so much storage, which is what this blog is concentrating on. 

That said, it gets you thinking. If he thought that 640K memory was enough, how much storage would he think would suffice at the time? 1MB, 5MB or 10MB? The above claims are now moot as there is no way one can run a program or even an app with the above mentioned specifications. Just take a look at the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to see which is the smallest app available for download. 

With that in mind, lets discuss what current organisations’ data needs are. Admittedly there is a plethora of information about this on the Internet, but in this post we re concentrating on five key points facing companies of all sizes at the moment: 

  •  Knowing what data is mission critical versus what is less important 
  • Getting your data in line with nationally enforced compliance policies 
  • Securing your data 
  • Finding your data quickly and efficiently 
  • Implementing a data disaster recovery plan 

Simply put, data storage is the collection and retention of digital information or the bits and bytes behind applications, network protocols, documents, media, address books, user preferences and more. Data storage, and more to the point data management, is the main component of big data, sometimes referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Today, IT is under increasing pressure to deliver greater levels of simplicity and agility on the business side. Enterprise-grade, on-premises storage must now provide the same operational flexibility as cloud, becoming ever more adaptable, automated and easier to integrate with existing management frameworks.  

But, how does one understand their organisations data needs and in turn purchase the correctly specified hardware to support it?,” asks Chris Larkins, business unit manager for Dell Enterprise at Tarsus Distribution. 

When it comes to data storage and management there is no one size fits all’ approach. Businesses need to work out from where their data originates and how much data they accumulate. From there they can decide what is important and what can be deleted. They also need to decide on the type of management plan they would like to go with. For example a cloud only approach, an on premises one, or a hybrid setup,” he continues. 

Larkins offers the following tips for IT administrators to keep in mind when outlining a data storage and administration strategy: 

  • Know your data. This includes understanding timeframes in terms of restoring from backups. Take into account what data needs to be restored to ensure business continuation versus what can wait for a later stage. 
  • Understanding data compliance. Compliance should be on the top of everyones mind right now. The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) came into effect on 1 July 2020, giving companies a years grace to become certified. This means that all entities have until 1 July 2021 to be fully compliant or suffer the consequences. Visit the POPIA website here to find out what one needs to do to be compliant. However those that are only waking up to the POPIA act now are in for a horrible surprise. 
  •  Make sure your data is secure. This goes without saying, and many enterprises try their best to to secure their data. But there are endless pitfalls and areas that are easily overlooked when implementing a security policy. Ideally, security experts should be brought in to draw up a policy that deals with data, devices and employee education. Lack of education is one of the main reasons a company ends up losing data. 

Data also needs to be physically secured. This means devices that store data must be protected against fire, physical theft, water damage and the like. It also needs to be virtually secured against hacking, malware, ransomeware and viruses.  

  • Make sure you can find your data. It is all very well having a great data management solution, but this is useless if you cant find what you need quickly. Many solutions such as those offered by Dell EMC make it easy to search through gigs of data, but one still needs to know how to input a well defined search. 
  • Disaster recovery. Finally, a disaster recovery plan needs to be implemented. This will help in terms of quickly recovering data in the event of a catastrophic loss. Mission critical data should be the first to be recovered, after which less important data can be restored. Solutions like the Dell EMC Protection Suite are ideal for data backups and disaster management.  

 

A Daunting Task 

Data storage and management can be a daunting  task for many. But there are companies, devices and experts there to help.  

The Dell EMC PowerStore appliance, distributed by Tarsus Distribution, is just one solution,” comments Larkins. It is designed to meet the growing data demands of any organisation through its scalability, security and performance. 

PowerStore can be configured to suit a companys current needs and then grow with it, meaning one only pays for what is needed – keeping costs to an absolute minimum. 

The device is also intelligent in that if it is correctly configured many of the tasks are automated, thereby eliminating most of the complexity and all the while allowing an enterprise to concentrate on the faster delivery of new applications and services,” says Larkins.   

Its intelligence also automates mundane processes like data migration, load balancing and data optimisation, even as environments evolve sometimes in an unpredictable way.  

Larkins concludes by saying that no matter what a current storage environment looks like, the PowerStore solution helps simplify and modernise it without adding another management level, allowing IT staff to leverage their current skillsets while investing confidently in the future.  

Enterprise-grade, on-premises storage must now provide the same operational flexibility as cloud, becoming ever more adaptable, automated and easier to integrate with existing management frameworks.  

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