Storage Optimization without Business Risk is Why Storage Management Found Its Way into Symantec Data Insight

Moving unstructured data onto lower cost tiers of storage is an initiative on almost every enterprise organization’s “to-do” list. But convincing a business unit or department to “volunteer” to move its data to a lower cost tier is not always as easy as it seems, especially when doing so may possibly put production applications at risk.

The assurance that this will not happen is what Symantec’s Data Insight for Storage provides as it enables enterprises to first understand who owns the data, why moving or deleting it presents no inherent risk to the data’s owner and starts the enterprise down the path of a broader data lifecycle management initiative.

The need for Symantec’s Data Insight for Storage software in lieu of or to complement more traditional storage management software is being driven by three factors.

  • Minimal information on data ownership. Over the last few years more enterprises have consolidated from multiple small file servers onto larger, shared NAS solutions. But in doing so it is not uncommon for file ownership to be improperly applied as these consolidations occur. This has resulted in more files being owned by “administrators” which makes it difficult for central IT to establish who in the enterprise actually owns the data.
  • No accountability. Not knowing who owns the data in shared storage environments makes it nearly impossible for IT to determine how much storage is then consumed by individual business units or departments as IT cannot definitively prove who is contributing to the storage growth.
  • Cost pressures. The lack of evidence is not however stopping data growth. But just passing along these storage costs to every business units and/or department is not acceptable either. They want IT to justify why they need to spend more on storage. In order to do that, IT needs to know who owns the data, how much storage the data is consuming and how quickly it is growing.

This is what makes Data Insight for Storage different than traditional storage management software. Data Insight for Storage leverages Data Insight’s native ability to document what files are being used by what applications or individuals and then establish file ownership. Armed with that information, Data Insight for Storage can then associate that file to a specific business unit or department so its current storage consumption as well as its storage growth can start to be tracked.

It is also what differentiates Data Insight for Storage from a typical file-based storage management software tool. While a storage management tool can detect the existence of a file in an inactive state as well as if the file is accessed, a storage management tool has no inherent ability to determine which business unit or department owns the file. This is the additional functionality that Data Insight for Storage delivers that a storage management tool alone lacks.

But possibly the most valuable information that Data Insight for Storage provides, at least from the perspective of IT, is that it establishes what data is NOT being accessed or used by anyone. The need for this information is what in part drove the introduction of more storage management functionality into Data Insight.

When file server consolidations occur, all data on pre-existing files are servers are dumped into this new central data repository. The problem this creates is that it is likely a percentage of the data being dumped is orphaned data which may be data that was previously owned by an individual who left the company or applications that are no longer used.

This makes it almost impossible to determine who now owns it or what its value is. But detecting the file’s existence and the absence of any activity on it with Data Insight for Storage now enables IT to take action on the file.

Static files become the most logical ones for IT to confidently move to a lower cost tier of storage or even delete as IT now has the proof that the files are not owned nor are it being accessed by anyone or any application. Moving the data off of production storage also may free sufficient capacity such that new storage purchases may be delayed.
But whether or not a purchase is delayed, Data Insight for Storage more importantly begins to equip IT with information as to who owns what data on their EMC, NetApp and Windows-based NAS filers and then tracks it back to the owning business unit or department. This provides IT with the actionable information that it needs so it can then show to business units or departments how much data they actually own, how fast the data that they own is growing and how active or inactive it is.

Having worked in small and large enterprises, people generally want to do what’s in the best interest of the organization but only when they are confident that doing “what is best for the organization” will not put what they or their department are responsible for in harm’s way. Data Insight for Storage now gives them the information and the confidence that individual business unit or department heads need in order to give the OK to either move their data to a lower tier of storage or even delete it if the situation warrants.

By determining the frequency or infrequency of data access, companies can start down the path of implementing data lifecycle management as they can establish data ownership, confidently migrate or delete data, more efficiently use the storage that they do have and do a better job of explaining to business units and departments how they are helping them keep their costs down while not exposing them to unnecessary risks.


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