Author: Yogi Schulz

Summary: Control the cost of data management in the midst of skyrocketing data volumes without sacrificing data accessibility.

Which of these issues are you experiencing in your business?

  • E-mail database is growing by leaps and bounds.
  • Network drives are growing at an alarming rate.
  • Staff struggle to find data on network drives.
  • Number of application databases exceeds all expectations.
  • No access to my company applications?
  • Backup and recovery have become too expensive.
  • Duplication of data is becoming pervasive.

We’ve all seen charts that indicate the cost of disk per unit of storage is plummeting. While this trend is nominally true, it is a highly misleading indicator of the all-inclusive business cost of data management. While the raw cost of disk is plummeting, the cost of facilities, electrical power, air conditioning, software to manage the data and related staff are all climbing faster.

You can address these issues with an improved data management strategy. For a management level discussion of the components of the strategy, click here:Microsoft Application Platform: Data Management. For more detail, download the whitepaper offered on the left of this web page.


Control e-mail data growth

E-mail data growth is being driven mostly by the growing size of attachments. Attachments are growing in size exponentially as employees increasingly use e-mail to distribute audio and video files.

Actively encourage employees to replace attachments on outgoing messages with links to the file location on the network drive or on the content management system. For incoming messages, have one person store the attachment and distribute the link to all the intended recipients. Using links reduces the tendency of each recipient to store attachments privately; creating significant duplication.

Sending messages to large distribution lists or pressing Reply All contributes to e-mail data growth because the message is retained until the last recipient deletes the message. Encourage employees to be conservative about the number of recipients for their messages.

Implementing an e-mail archiving product will control growth of the online e-mail database. If your business is at risks of becoming a defendant in lawsuits consider using an eDiscovery tool.

Post a list of preferred e-mail behaviors on the company portal to encourage employees to maximize the value of e-mail and to control e-mail data growth.


Replace network drives with content management

The data stored in network drives is growing rapidly in many organizations. While network drives simplify making data widely accessible, they also impose the following limitations:

  • Difficult to search for documents
  • Easy to misfile documents
  • Directory tree structure offers only one primary access path
  • Time-consuming to manage access restrictions to specific directories
  • Limited metadata to describe information about documents

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems address these limitations, improve data accessibility and offer additional benefits including:

  • Support workflow
  • Maintain version history
  • Enable collaboration
  • Leverage knowledge capital
  • Minimize duplicate filing of documents

For a management level discussion of ECM, click here:Enterprise Content Management from Microsoft. For more detail, download the whitepaper offered at the bottom of this web page.


Control application database growth

A frequent cause of rapid data growth is the creation of multiple copies of application databases. Databases are already large files. When these files are copied, the data growth becomes exponential.

The most common cause of database growth is database administrators making extra copies to test a proposed change or to diagnose a problem. A second cause is software developers maintaining multiple private copies of production databases for testing purposes.

Both of these reasons are quite legitimate. The problem occurs when these individuals, under pressure to deliver faster, forget to clean up before they move onto the next task.

Reduce this data growth by having the boss of the database administrators monitor the number of databases in existence and by implementing shared databases for software testing.


Manage data growth through measurement

Improved measurement and reporting of data growth often slows the data growth rate. It can even lead to temporary decreases in data growth.

Let’s face it; we all have pack rat tendencies. We worry that we might need some document in the future without ever considering that we won’t be able to find it on that day or that the probability of that day ever occurring is really low.

We can attack pack rat tendencies through simple reporting of e-mail, network and ECM space consumption by individual. Staff tends to respond to what is being measured. If reporting doesn’t do the trick, consider holding a contest that rewards data growth conscious behavior.


Yogi Schulz is a Calgary, Alberta-based contributing writer to the Microsoft Midsize Business Center. His work has appeared in Computing Canada, EDGE, The Calgary Herald and Microsoft Ideas. He typically consults with CIO’s in the energy, government and real estate industries.

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