Building a modern data strategy

Today our use of data is critical, so delivering the right strategy to our business is crucial

cloud data center
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During the recent VMworld conference in Las Vegas, VMware discussed how NSX was “becoming the connective tissue that ties everything together.”

This stands out as another example of how the realization that our IT systems can no longer live in silos is starting to hit home.

This is not just about compute resources however, this also impacts our data, in a modern business where data is a crucial asset, we can no longer accept an infrastructure that limits how we get the very best from it.

What does this mean for data strategy and should we care?

Increasingly our data infrastructures are ever more “hybrid,” on-prem in a datacenter, in public clouds as primary data, or backup and disaster recovery and in SaaS platforms like Office365—and that’s just today; what about in the future?

It is this hybrid infrastructure that leads to data “silos” with each hybrid element often having its own data repository. As the challenges of managing our data continue to increase, having different data platforms, with different rules, policies, procedures and management platforms is not acceptable, it’s inefficient and costly, and potentially presents significant security and compliance risks.

That cannot be a satisfactory data strategy.

Can it?

What to do?

As we plan our future data strategy, it’s important that we understand it needs to be built with a bigger view of how we use data in mind. If your next data strategy is only focused on which storage vendor you should buy, or whether you are going on-prem or cloud, then you are doing yourself and your business a disservice.

Our data, as a crucial business asset, should be treated like any other significant asset. We need to take care of it, keep it secure and know how to get the very best from it. If we are thinking of our data in silos, we are going to hugely restrict its value to us and our business.

Building a strategy

It’s not about media or vendors

The mistake we need to avoid is getting caught up in technology ideology arguments, disk vs. flash, cloud vs on-prem, vendor A vs. vendor B; strategically this is less important than where our focus should be, the data, and how we maximize it as an asset.

Mobility

As we look at how we are going to use our data now and in the future, mobility is key. It is going to be vital for a modern data-focused business to be able to have its data where it’s needed, when it’s needed.  

Our aim should be to decouple our data from a reliance on any specific infrastructure, allowing us the mobility and flexibility we will need.

Simplify management

Our overstrained IT staff don’t need a plethora of different tools to manage our data. What we need to do is to simplify it. We want tools in place that can manage our data over multiple repositories, on-prem, cloud, and all that’s in between.

If our aim is getting the best from our data, have a data management tool set that lets us do that, rather than make data mobility some kind of sorcery, only known by a select few!

Maintain security

Security is critical in any modern data strategy. If we accept data is a crucial asset to our business, then protect it like any other crucial asset. It’s important as we build robust data security policies, procedures, and tools that we ensure they are maintained wherever our data is.

Moving it somewhere where we can get additional value shouldn’t be and cannot be a security risk.

Insight

We need to know where data is, who is using it, what they are doing with it, why they are accessing itm and are they even using it (well bear in mind you’re paying to store it!).

A modern data strategy needs to have insight at the very heart of it, without that, how are we to know if we are getting the best from it, while securing and governing it how we need to.

Building a data strategy is not, in my opinion, a technology debate. A data strategy needs to ensure we get the very best from data, making it available, mobile, and flexible so it can be best used now and in the future.

Removing data silos is a crucial part of a modern strategy. Think about how you remove them from your business, or else you will miss out on making the most of your valuable data assets.

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