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Copying grows along with data, driving attempts to rein it in

Stephen Lawson | June 4, 2013
There are reasons to duplicate data, but it can get out of hand, analysts say.

All that new data flowing into enterprises can bring along an expensive partner: multiple copies.

For better or worse, many types of data are copied multiple times for multiple purposes, including backup, archiving and development work, according to IDC analysts Ashish Nadkarni and Laura DuBois. And once created, those extra bits usually hang around.

"We're really a pack-rat society," DuBois said. "Deletion of data is not really a concept that's frequently practiced."

Bryon Bua, vice president and enterprise technology manager at Admirals Bank in Providence, Rhode Island, has seen that problem firsthand. Before the bank adopted a copy management system throughout its infrastructure, individual departments increased the storage load without really thinking about it.

"The applications guys, the development group, they would make copies of servers," Bua said. "They needed to do this kind of thing for their own testing, but they would never get rid of it, it would be just laying around, using extra space."

Actifio, a startup that specializes in copy data management, has helped draw attention to the issue with products designed to control duplication of data across all enterprise systems. Other vendors have different approaches to handling copies, and the market for technology in this area may soon grow broader.

In a white paper released this week, sponsored by Actifio, IDC attempted to scope out the size of the problem. Its findings are based partly on an international survey of just over 700 enterprise IT managers. Among the survey's findings, a majority of respondents said that less than 25 percent of their storage spending currently goes toward copies of data. But when they looked toward the next 12 months, that figure flopped, with a majority expecting to put 25 percent or more toward copies.

Saving copies of data isn't inherently wasteful, and each type of enterprise has its own requirements for holding onto information, Nadkami said. But in many cases, data is copied by different applications and storage platforms, and by employees within their own departments, without any central oversight, he said. This can produce unneeded copies that take up costly storage capacity.

Another analyst, Jason Buffington, of Enterprise Strategy Group, holds a similar view.

"Every copy that gets created, it's typically created for the right reasons," Buffington said. But taken together, those good deeds can add up to a huge amount of data that's not needed. Meanwhile, two of the top three areas of capital investment in storage relate to copies and not primary data, Buffington said. "If you can be smarter on how you do this, then that reduces one of the largest capex investments in IT."

"I don't think we have the data yet to say what is too much," IDC's Nadkami said. But the results of the survey indicated respondents made between 10 and 120 copies of some of their data, he said. "Some people go to the extreme." The key is for enterprises to manage their copies and copying procedures with an eye to the whole organization's storage costs and efficiency, according to IDC.

 

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