Going on the Offensive – Managing Your Most Strategic Asset: Data
By Gary Lim, Director, Systems Engineering, Commvault
It is indisputable that data has become the most strategic asset of every organisation today. Whether organisations want to mine data for insights, or simply prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, data is needed to keep businesses moving with minimal disruption. Organizations are challenged to ensure users have access to data easily, and keep data protected regardless of where it lives. However, the task is not simple, given wide disparities in data strategies, the evolving nature of data and technologies, as well as changes in governmental and industry regulations and requirements.
How should organisations better manage their data? Data managers could do well to learn from those that have been mastering strategy for decades: athletes. When studying sports – be it basketball, soccer or even popular e-sports like DoTA and Overwatch – the cornerstone of every successful game strategy has been offensive plays. It is often said that the best defence is a good offense, and for good reason: you can’t defend your opponent to death. Organisations that adopt offensive plays by making their data work for them provide themselves with an advantage to not only decimate their competition, but also nimbly sidestep criminals dying to steal sensitive data.
Leveraging data for the right insights
The imperative to use the cloud for business purposes has become accepted as commonplace. Most organisations are already taking steps to gather data – 74% of organisations are already leveraging public clouds, allowing them to store large amounts of sensitive data in more cost effective, easy to-maintain and agile environments.
But in today’s increasingly crowded market, simply moving to the cloud is not enough of an offensive play if everyone else has already done it. Companies can have all the data in the world, but it is useless unless they know why the data is significant. It’s not enough to have the best sports equipment if everyone else is using it the same way – it has instead become the new standard and anyone that isn’t keeping up will be left behind.
The most durable way of securing a leg up against the competition is by leveraging data further to draw critical insights. The benefit is clear – companies that use data to drive strategic decision making have boosted productivity by up to 33 percent, and this is set to increase with future advances in data analytics.
Through an in-depth policy driven approach, organisations can better understand different data classifications and unlock critical insights, which can in turn enable business leaders for example, to better calculate business risks and costs.
Speed is the name of the game
An offensive strategy is not just about leveraging data, but also ensuring that your data management keeps up with the rapid pace of businesses today. Businesses that successfully accomplish this will be better able to race ahead of not only their competition, but also have the agility to dodge anything that is thrown at them, whether that be outages or cyberthreats.
One way to stay agile would be to adopt webscale infrastructure for secondary storage. Traditionally this is only done for primary storage, but with more than 70 percent of business data now sitting in secondary storage, businesses can’t call themselves agile when they don’t optimize the majority of their data.
A business dealing purely with scale-up architecture has increased costs and complexity, as they are forced to overbuy capacity to address future growth, or find their data spread across several silos preventing the integration of new applications, data and infrastructure. Even worse, when it’s time to expand the business and speed up, scale-up architecture fails the business at the worst possible time while new infrastructure is provisioned, data is slowly migrated to new servers, and extra capacity needs to be integrated.
However, businesses speeding ahead with webscale infrastructure will instead deliver cloud-like services on-premises, helping businesses achieve IT agility, without having to constantly worry about data risk and infrastructure complexity. When the business sees its chance to score a winning goal against its competition, there are no “forklift” upgrades required to move data, no unpredictable performance hits, just seamless scalability that supports the speed of the business.
Hit the home run with proper data management
Leveraging data and gaining momentum for speed are two key pillars of a winning offensive data strategy. If businesses wish to have a unified overview of their data across any and all environments, then adopting data management practices and solutions that place them on the offensive must be part of their strategy.
With data now the most important asset of every organisation today, a good offense will help businesses win in an increasingly competitive business environment and give them the agility to face outages and threats that are becoming more sophisticated each day. Like any professional sports team, it would be wise to stay adaptable and pragmatic, adapting your strategy to constantly changing businesses priorities.
 Cloud Security Report. McAfee. 2017.
 The Big Data Payoff: Turning Big Data into Business Value. Capgemini. 2016.