Are you creating a data solar system or an asteroid belt?

Nov. 14, 2018 / By AJ Dandrea

In the last few decades, Pluto was declassified as a planet and categorized as something else–a dwarf planet. Basically, scientists acknowledged Pluto’s distinctive place in the universe and decided it was something better than an asteroid. What does this have to do with where you put your data? Quite a lot…

The Cloud makes it possible to create data systems with a click. A few short years ago, technology organizations would spend weeks, sometimes months, forecasting data growth in order to capitalize hardware purchases that aligned with business needs. This upfront diligence and planning was one reason organizations transitioned to the Cloud and to a protection mechanism that made it possible to locate data (and build mass) in the right place.

Remember the days when you would hear, “Put it on the SAN” (storage area network)?

The SAN was often the place where companies would store data. The Cloud has dramatically changed the notion of a singular data location. Most leading Cloud service providers allow you to create numerous data locations with a click and attach these locations to anything. Today, everyone can have a data location. These objects can grow in size and importance, and after a short while, the result is an “asteroid belt” of storage locations. Privacy and security experts describe this as increasing your risk footprint. This scenario is a lot like playing the 1980s video game Asteroids. The game increases in difficulty and eventually ends when the player fails to keep up with the volume of danger.

As a technical leader, I invest my energy and focus in data planets that have proven stability in providing business value. I ask myself, is this operationally excellent? Does it benefit other areas of business and how will it grow? Will it become Pluto, Jupiter, or the Sun of our company? Essentially, my role extends beyond hiring and cultivating talent into the realm of destroying asteroids.

My guidance is this: Beware the ease of data creation and balance it with purpose. Asteroids, especially data asteroids, can grow very fast and challenge your data stewards in controlling them. Spend time understanding your data solar system and create guiding principles to avoid eccentric orbits.

AJ Dandrea is operations manager of the cloud hosting organization at 3M Health Information Systems.