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Secondary data – the paradigm-shifting resource overlooked by businesses

06 Mar 18

Article by Commvault APAC principal architect Chris Gondek

Data has evolved.

Until recently, data was in the basement, gathering dust on tapes and old servers, regarded as a necessary byproduct of doing business in the digital economy.

In recent years, this has changed with data becoming a top priority for businesses. Recognising the potential of their data, organisations have awarded a number of seats at the executive table to drive value and best practice from it.

Data in the enterprise

The reality is, we’re living in a digital world where data is paramount to daily activities and business decisions.

It seems that almost every business has a finger in the data pie; eager to experience the gains of integration, collaboration and cost savings waiting to be discovered.  

But garnering this value isn’t as easy as it could be.

For one, data growth in recent years is staggering.

According to IDC, worldwide data will grow to 163 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025 – which is more than 10 times the amount of data we have today.

Furthermore, the majority of this will be created and managed by enterprises.

At the same time, however, for every terabyte (TB) of data found on the front end of a given system, there are estimated to be at least two TBs of back-end copy.

Historically, this backend or secondary copy data has been used to meet the compliance and backup needs of the enterprise – serving only as an insurance policy.

Businesses have not sought more from this secondary copy data, allowing it to sap crucial resources without delivering any value.

The rising value of secondary data

This is all changing.

Increasingly organisations are demanding that their secondary data contribute to the growth and development of the business.

At the same time, there has been a shift in the business resulting in a growing ambiguity towards what denotes primary and secondary data.

Traditionally, production and original data have been categorised as primary, while copy data, backup data, and disaster recovery (DR) data has been broadly considered as secondary.

But the lines between primary and secondary data are blurring.

Secondary copy data is now being used for much more, allowing business to take what was once a resource heavy burden, and derive true value from it.

As such, secondary data has become elevated within the business as its value is uncovered across a number of key areas.

1. Insights

It is estimated that only 25% of data within an organisation is active, meaning that the majority of it can be found in secondary data stores.

It goes without saying that failing to include 75% of data for business analytics is a flawed system that would undoubtedly affect the accuracy of any reporting and analysis conducted by an organisation.

Not only does historical data form the basis of precise forecasting, but utilising a full data set increases the overall accuracy of the analysis.

2. Innovation

Research and Markets has predicted that the mobile enterprise application market will be worth over US$98billion by 2021.

As organisations drive innovation with the development of apps, they will increasingly find that secondary data is a critical part of application lifecycle development.

Often application development requires huge volumes of active data copies and copy data management.

In the past, organisations had to make enormous clones of their data in order to test and develop these applications.

Now we can use secondary copy data for this purpose, speeding up application development and innovation.

3. Compliance

Whilst looking to innovate, be secure and drive value from their data, organisations must also be compliant.

This sounds simple, but in reality, compliance is becoming more and more complex.

From Australia's mandatory data breach notification laws to GDPR, there is an increasing demand for organisations to be able to deliver federated search capabilities, and assurance of secondary data to meet compliance head-on.

For example, as part of GDPR, European residents have the right to have their personal data completely removed from an organisation’s databases.

As laws like Australia's new legislation continue to complicate compliance, organisations need to stay one step ahead in making sure their policies are up-to-date or face hefty fines.

The Mandatory Data Breach notification law against individuals being subject to determinations based on automated systems without human intervention, as it currently the case in some Australian Government bodies, will force organisations to rethink how data is used.

Legislation around data protection will only get more strict and nuanced, so it's important for organisations to lay the groundwork for strong compliance policies now. 

4. Continuity

With the evolving threat landscape, including the rise of ransomware, malware and insider threats – it’s no wonder that secondary data has become more than an insurance policy.

It is essential to reducing downtime and risk associated with internal and external threats.

Business continuity demands accurate recovery data, which can be quickly and easily sourced from up-to-date, secure secondary data stores.

Today’s enterprise IT environments are changing.

With each new project or customer engagement comes a host of new data making it easy to forget the value secondary data brings to the table.

However, secondary data is a critical resource for the enterprise, providing a full picture of what the past, present and future could like.

What’s more, when used effectively, secondary data will provide the foundations for greater innovation, improved security, flawless compliance and better data analytics.

Find out how you can fully utilise your secondary data.

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