Scary Storage Stories: Tales From the (Server) Crypt

Sometimes, it makes sense to fear the unknown. Companies store data, forget it and practically leave it for dead – never realizing that it may one day come back to haunt them. We’ve seen nightmares like unexpected data loss, compromised privacy and the secrets that lie awake in dark data become realities. Luckily, data-aware storage can help protect IT pros from the forces that lurk in data centers.

Below are our top three scary storage stories.

The Fail of the In-house Backup
An enterprise implemented a backup system to replicate and protect its servers and Common Internet File System (CIFS) shares. When the team finished the setup and went home for the night, one crucial feature was left untouched: the program’s email notifications, which inform IT staff when storage capacity is running low. Left to their own devices, the increasing backups grew too large for the system to handle – and the other servers followed suit. Unaware of the horrors festering in the data center, the IT team went about their business for four days – with no idea that not a single backup was created during that time for the entire environment. It was only when the minor hardware failure finally caused an interruption and led the team to revert operations that they realized the entire week may as well have never happened.

Moral of the story: Leverage a solution that identifies and draws from unused space, expanding the stored data’s room to grow and support data protection that exceeds traditional backup.

The Tale of the Heart(less) Former Employee
One organization was violated to its core: a data breach caused its intellectual property to be compromised. After the shock of the crime settled in, the IT team did its best to piece together the case. How did the data escape, and where did it go? Did it rise from the crypt like some undead corpse, or could the team members truly have been as careless as it seemed? They finally found the answer when they saw their own work being touted by a competing company – the breach had been an inside job by a recently terminated employee, who took those insights to another organization and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Moral of the story: If data is leaked or becomes possessed, a data-aware storage system can detect when and where it happened. The insight gained by shedding light on who last opened a critical file, or how frequently an employee accessed it before he was terminated or announced his resignation, can protect data from possession by dark forces. Also if the information is reclaimed, DataGravity can help bring it back from the dead.

Night of the Living Data
Darkness is scary for a simple reason: what you don’t know might hurt you. There are nights when waking up in your own bed after an unsettling dream is as nerve-wracking as the idea of being alone in a strange city at night, or the strange panic that may rise as you hear your own footsteps padding across the ground in the woods under a night sky. Even if you know other people are nearby, there is an element of the unknown that causes sounds to amplify and nerves to tense.

For a company, dark data is no different than this feeling of real-life panic. Just because data hasn’t been updated or accessed for months or years doesn’t mean it isn’t hiding dark secrets or sensitive information. Not only is this dormant data taking up expensive storage space, it has the potential to rise from the dead and terrorize you and your organization at any time. Do you know what lies just beneath the surface on all your file shares, personal drives and virtualized environments?

Moral of the story: Storage administrators need to turn on the lights to see what’s there. Data-aware storage shines a light on all of your data. It identifies data that hasn’t been modified or accessed in 30, 60, 90 days or longer, surfaces files – new and old – that have confidential information lurking in them, and helps IT pros proactively manage their dark files. And like most fears, once you see what’s lurking behind the curtain, your cause for concern is considerably lifted.

There’s no reason for the ghosts of dark data to haunt IT pros – in any of these situations, data-aware storage would have helped replace those blood-curdling screams about data losses and storage nightmares with comfortable sighs of relief.

Have you seen worse? We’d love to hear your tales – and we’d love to help.

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Jeff Boehm

Jeff Boehm

Jeff Boehm was the vice president of marketing at DataGravity for 2 years. Jeff brought more than 20 years of experience with a rare combination of marketing skills, organizational leadership and technical background to DataGravity, having shaped the BI and search markets working for industry pioneers and disrupters.