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Since they lack the information to tell the difference between an outdated baby shower invitation and critical documents that contain intellectual property, most enterprises have adopted a straightforward approach to storage: save everything. This sounds like bad storage practice, and it is, but enterprises can't be faulted for taking the pack rat approach. The culprit is unstructured data.

Given the variety of formats, the number and diversity of devices, never mind the sheer volume of Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, and email in today's enterprise, it is no wonder that unstructured data has been a difficult challenge. And, without a solid handle on unstructured data (which can represent 85 percent of the information in an enterprise) there is no reasonable way to implement a selective, if not effective, storage strategy.

Hiding data under the bed

Unfortunately for the enterprises who subscribe to it, the "save everything" approach to storage is the data equivalent of hiding your life savings in the mattress. They're close at hand, but your assets are in the dark and far from secure. There is some good news about saving everything though. For one, critical data remains in the system. The bad news is that so does everything else. And the bad news far outweighs the good, because the problems created when an organization saves everything are money-in-the-mattress risky. For example:

  • An abundance of unclassified data creates an environment where information gems (data that could be used for competitive advantage) are lost to the enterprise
  • Junk data, from personal photos and office party invitations to lunch menus, take up valuable storage space and make it more challenging for users to get at what they need
  • Sensitive data, stored against corporate retention policies, lies waiting to become a compliance or security nightmare
  • Thousands of duplicate documents that can't be identified, so they can't be purged from storage devices, hamper legal discovery efforts and contribute to data volume and confusion

When it comes to unstructured data storage there has to be a better way, but what is it?


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