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“Interesting Times” for Unstructured Data Management

by Shaun Walsh – January 10, 2019

The expression “may you live in interesting times...” is subject to much debate. To some it is a celebration of the the opportunities to be found in times of transition. To others, it is a cautionary phrase that should be heeded to avoid misfortune. No matter which side of these interpretations you find yourself aligned with, there is no question that 2019 will be a year of significant opportunities and challenges for those responsible for the proper care, management, and stewardship of unstructured data.

I see 2019 as a milestone year for unstructured data management and stewardship. Here are nine opportunities I see for UDM in 2019.

  1. The Facebook Effect - Facebook has become the new face of technology regulation and the scrutiny that is being focused at social media, search algorithms, data access and individual privacy. This scrutiny will create new regulations/requirements for how unstructured data is identified, accessed, audited, protected, and located. We have seen the beginning of this with GDPR and the proposed California Consumer Privacy Act.
  2. Security vs. Privacy - Rarely can consumers or security experts agree on the exact differences or definitions between privacy and security, so for this blog I am going to use the following simplistic definitions. Security is how you protect data access and control.  Privacy is how data is used and shared. 2019 will see greater demand by users, business partners, and governments to offer improved transparency, management, controls, and data protection that will include access controls, mitigation of malware, avoidance of data exfiltration, and audibility against improper sharing.
  3. AI/ML and Analytics Will Shatter Silos - As we have seen with Pure Storage's Data Hub and the 451 Group’s “rise of the data catalog,” the need to shatter the silos that limit the value and monetization of data will rise in 2019. The need for free flowing, self-serve data analytics and ability to create AI/ML algorithms to drive faster and more effective business decisions will become a key strategic demand in this year.
  4. The Tidal Wave of Unstructured Data - To say that data growth is accelerating is probably not a surprise to anyone reading this blog. The question is, do you have a plan on how to surf this tsunami-class wave of data your organization is creating today and into the future? The tools of the past suffer from three core challenges: Scale, search and mobility. To manage data you have to know what you have, where it is, and be able to move it to the right place at the right time. In 2019, you will need to devise a new strategy and find new tools to support unstructured data management for the next decade.
  5. The Age of the Workflow - The age of the application has given way to the age of the workflow. Workflows create products, services, and actionable business analytics. This is why the shattering of data silos is so vital for your organization to excel, be competitive, and create leadership in your segment.
  6. DIY Data Management - Like the age of the workflow, do-it-yourself data management is on the rise with data owners. The ability to make data more accessible, easier to leverage and more searchable will be a growing demand in 2019 and beyond. This will raise new challenges for both data protection, security management and privacy compliance.
  7. The Single Source of Truth in a Multi-Vendor World - At Igneous when we think about our vision of UDM, we think about a few core principles: 1) Make it easy to know what you have, 2) Enable the right people to find what they need, 3) Protected in the right way, and 4) Manage the location of data to support workflows. We are seeing a growing trend where data lives on multiple storage systems and multiple cloud platforms, and everyone needs a single source of truth for their data. This is will be a core requirement for 2019 and beyond to support business requirements, data management, and regulatory demands.
  8. Machines Rage on in Generating Data - For many years machines have created more data than individuals. This is not going to change in the future with the advent of AI/ML, IoT, AR/VR user interfaces, and expectations of data mobility. Your UDM strategy will need to evolve to manage data volumes which are accelerating with increased machine generation and much like an iceberg, most of this data is hidden under the water, but it must be properly managed even if most people don’t truly understand the scope and scale of this data category.
  9. GDPR Was Just the Beginning - GDPR is just the beginning. It always takes years and sometimes decades for governments to catch up with technologies and markets.  As we have seen over the last few years, the science, scope, and use of data is dramatically ahead of regulations. While I don’t think all of the forthcoming regulatory rules will be advantageous, there is know question that they are coming and ignorance will not be an excuse for failure to comply. This is one of the many reasons that the Igneous UDM vision is simple: Know what you have, be able to find it, protect it the right way.

I am sure many other items (some of which may be more important) could have made this list, but the items above will need to be part of your data strategy in 2019 and for many years in the future. More than once during my many years in the data world, I have heard the storage industry referred to as the “snorage” industry, but as I write this blog and think about the implications for IT teams, data owners and business leaders, I have no doubt that interesting and strategic times are ahead for unstructured data management in 2019 and beyond.

To learn how your organization can prepare to take on the upcoming challenges of unstructured data, download our State of Unstructured Data Report for free.

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