Organizations can gain tremendous value from their data. They can glean business insights, make better decisions, foresee trends, recognize opportunities, anticipate customer desires, and stay ahead of competitors.
But to do all this, they must do two things. They must keep their data safe with an air-tight approach to backup and recovery to prevent downtime and minimize data loss. And they must use their data well, managing it and analyzing it efficiently to get the necessary insights.
Unified data management helps them do both. For starters, it closes the vulnerabilities created by data silos and inefficient data management. Over the past 20 years, organizations have deployed best-of-breed solutions from network security to antivirus to backup and recovery. Many companies manage these systems separately, creating data silos and huge operational gaps.
These gaps result in vulnerabilities and open the door for bad stuff, such as successful cyberattacks or damage caused by a rogue employee. Data silos compromise your overall data security posture and place you at greater risk.
With unified data management, you can gain better oversight and control of your data and, from there, build solid security, backup, and recovery strategies. You can also mitigate another downside of data silos: distributed, disparate data that doesn’t provide you with the business insights you need.
What is unified data management? It’s a way of bringing together disparate data sources to establish a unified data narrative. When your data remains in silos, you don’t have the clear, overall data picture you need to run your business best. There might be a valuable piece of data stored in some silo somewhere that your leaders don’t see and, therefore, can’t use.
So unified data management is the goal. But it’s not easy to get there. It’s a complex task to merge disparate data systems. To begin with, the technologies companies use to store data are fragmented. There are thousands of software and hardware vendors, all with their programming languages, vocabularies, syntaxes, and practices.
Add to this the fact that data comes in many different forms. There is big data and small data. There are structured, unstructured, and multi-structured data. Some systems can handle certain kinds of data, and datasets can vary markedly. Indeed, most data ecosystems are as complex as the United Nations, with just as many disagreements. It is a problem because data assets fuel today’s businesses. They power your ability to make more informed decisions about strategy based on actual relevance and actionable insights. For this reason, unified data management should be a key initiative for every business. Here are three ways to get started on your unified data management campaign.
1: Consolidate vendors
From a data storage, backup, and recovery point of view, consolidating on a single data-management vendor will help you minimize gaps and increase data resilience. Consolidating with one vendor can also help reduce complexity and cost. It is also vital because many companies today may have systems running and don’t fully know how to manage them.
Part of the problem is a dire shortage of IT talent to manage all the disparate systems. Companies are struggling to find people with the knowledge, experience, and skills to manage many various point solutions. When you consolidate on one vendor, you can reduce the personnel resources required to support disparate solutions and devote those resources to more strategic initiatives.
2: Embrace automation
In IDC’s Future Enterprise Resilience Survey, organizations identified data protection as their number one area for greater automation. Automation is a big plus because it automatically consolidates disparate data sources to create a single data source. And because it automatically cleanses data, it saves the time of data scientists and other talented people.
Unified data management applies rules to data automatically and eliminates instances of non-compliance. It is essential because non-compliance now brings hefty fines, while compliance indicates best business practices and enhances trust among customers and vendors.
Better still, automatically linking policies and business rules centralize management and improve data quality while improving data protection.
3: Focus on visibility
One of the biggest challenges to unified data management is the explosive growth rate of data. There is always the chance of losing track of how many copies of data you have and where you have them. Another challenge is storage. What data truly needs to be stored and protected, and what data does not?
Fortunately, there are now solutions that can give you visibility across all the locations where you have data, whether on-prem, in the cloud or in other backup locations. Unified data management eliminates data gaps and silos because you can view all your data from a single console or control panel.
The volume of data at the average organization is now doubling annually. And as the volume of data grows, so do the challenges of managing it and using it to the best advantage. Unified data management helps companies solve those challenges. IDC predicts that, by next year, half of all organizations will implement a plan to unify data storage, access, and governance. Those that do this will achieve a consistent data experience, optimize the value of their data and gain a competitive edge.