IIIS: To delete or not to delete -- that is the Big Data question

Muddied definitions of backup and archiving and a lack of policies about data deletion are hobbling organisations as they race against Big Data

Muddied definitions of backup and archiving and a lack of policies about data deletion are hobbling organisations as they race against Big Data, delegates at the Implementing Information Infrastructure Symposium (IIIS) have heard.

Speaking at the event, co-hosted by Storage Networking Industry Association A/NZ and Computerworld Australia, IBRS advisor, Kevin McIsaac, said many IT professionals did not make the distinction between backup and archiving.

As a result not enough organisations have implemented an archival strategy with the purpose of reducing the volume of data that needs to be backed up daily.

“Backup is not archive,” he said. “The problem of trying to use backup as archive is you get a discovery request for email and now you have to go back and dump your backup tapes to a system, get them back, load them up into Exchange, only to find [the emails you are looking for] are not there. You then have to go back and do it again and again. [The process is] hopeless."

Also speaking at the event, IBM VP, storage sales, systems and technology, growth markets, Laura Guio, said organisations needed to better understand their data, the value of their data and their own storage environments.

“Doing a consultative review I think is a good way to start to understand your overall approach and objectives, but a lot of people just don’t understand what they should be archiving versus what they should be backing up,” she said. “A lot of that has to do with the actual value of that data.”

Concurring, HP StorageWorks sales and category manager, Mark Nielsen, said customers were largely not aware of the different types of data they had.

“It can be very hard to classify the types of data you have so a consultative approach can help – look at what types of data you have in your data centre,” he said. “What is the relevance of it to you today and in the future, and what is the migration strategy for that data through the many tiers of storage.”

“One thing I see [is] that the role of tape in data centre is also changing significantly from backup to more of an archive-type medium. Disk-to-disk type solutions are being used to address some of the inherent issues — backup reliability, backup performance — around backup.”

Another challenge, IBRS’ McIsaac said, in managing Big Data was the lack of policies within organisations managing what data could be deleted and when.

EMC ANZ marketing CTO, Clive Gold, questioned whether assigning value to different data and data types was even achievable as the value of data changes based on who is classifying it.

“The individual might have a value they assign to data while the organisation might have a different value,” he said. “Yes, the value of data changes over time, but how are you going to measure that? How do you know what is going to be valuable down the path. Is it time to forget the notion of what we delete and what we don’t and just find a way to say that data will be valuable no matter what it is and where it is, and figure out a way to make sure we can keep it in a cost effective manner and keep everything?”

IBM’s Guio countered that given the rates of data growth it was not realistic that any organisation would or could keep all data for ever.

“You have got to make some decisions about when you keep data, when you don’t, and when you archive it and when you back it up,” she said.

“There is also this ethical discussion coming into play about when you keep data and for how long and organisations are finding out that keeping data for ever is not a good thing. There is data they wish they had gotten rid of.”

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags HPIBMstoragebig dataemcStorage Networking Industry Association for Australia and New Zealand (SNIA ANZ)Implementing Information Infrastructure Symposium (IIIS)IIIS 2011

More about ANZ Banking GroupEMC CorporationHewlett-Packard AustraliaHPIBM AustraliaIBM AustraliaIBRSNielsenStorage Networking Industry Association

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