From five 9’s to five W’s: Why data intelligence is the new system availability
Are you still boasting about five-nines availability?
Don’t get me wrong. Achieving five nines, or 99.999 percent availability in a given system, is an incredible achievement for any IT vendor or team. Five nines works out to five minutes and 15 seconds of downtime per year, and when the concept hit the industry and eventually became the standard for service availability, it added immeasurable productivity benefits and backup reassurance to global organizations. However, IT has been building toward a breaking point in recent years, with data security becoming a top concern for technology pros and C-suite executives alike. It’s no longer enough to measure the availability of your data if you don’t know exactly what’s in it.
As you start to have new conversations and priorities surrounding five nines, you can pivot your business strategies and adapt to the shifting security climate by considering something else – the five W’s of your data. When you can answer “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and “why” about your company’s information, you can defend its security and enhance its value. For example, consider the situations outlined below.
- Who has access to the files on your server? Most exposures and vulnerabilities that result in compromised or stolen data begin within your network, not outside your perimeter. It’s up to you to audit file activity and track user behavior in order to keep your information safe.
- What predictions can you make based on data activity? Don’t discount the value of the patterns and insights that may come to light when you’re data-aware. For example, user analysis can help your team’s best collaborators, increasing productivity and working toward the same goals your five nines stamp once did. Also, by asking “What,” your organization can move closer to protecting your data. This can help you determine what your people intend to do with those files containing intellectual property (IP) or personally identifiable information (PII) that they have access to.
- Where is proprietary information, financial data and personally identifiable information (PII) being stored? In our conversations with prospects and partners, we often hear stories about how before they became data-aware, organizations didn’t realize an employee had mistakenly saved sensitive information to the public domain, where it was made available to third-party attackers without the company’s knowledge. Everyone does it. You grab a file from a secure location, work on the spreadsheet for a few hours, close your laptop and take it home. Before long, the file has found its way into an unsecure area and several people could access it. Who knows where it goes from there (although DataGravity does). It’s a harmless act, but it happens all of the time.
- When was the last time your team accessed each of your files? When most companies max out their storage space, they don’t question the reasons and simply purchase more. However, when your storage is smart enough to let you know how much of that used space contains copies of files and unnecessary user downloads, you can likely forgo the added costs and complexities of new storage add-ons. I am amazed at how many IT professionals walk up to us at events and say that they would spend the budget of an entire storage purchase to know what data is obsolete, who owns it and make a decision on what to do with it to clean up their systems and reduce overhead costs.
- Why does your data matter? Every organization is storing sensitive data that can jeopardize the security of confidential agreements, IP, personal information and your bottom line. If it’s possible for your data to understand and protect its contents, why not let your storage solution automatically save and secure your data? It is possible thanks to data-aware storage.
I’m not in any way saying that we should stop thinking about data integrity in terms of component redundancy and system availability metrics. I’m advocating an expanded view of data systems to include a security integrity check that enables us to determine in near real-time, what happened to a piece of information and who we need to talk to in order to figure out the purpose. It shouldn’t take a day to scan data to reproduce an event: it should take a minute. We’re expanding the role and the value of the administrator by giving them tools that address the five W’s, all at the point of storage and all included. It’s pretty simple and pretty smart.
Find out how data-aware storage can apply to various use cases at your company.3 Likes