This is a guest post, contributed by our partners at InfoCycle – Information Lifecycle Experts. 

In our current business climate, doing more with less is no longer a goal, but a necessity for survival. In addition, this time of social distancing and remote working environments is causing us all to rethink how we collaborate and obtain the same level of productivity once experienced in a corporate office.

When putting together 2020 budgets, you likely were not thinking of a complete or even partial shut-down of your operations. At InfoCycle, we believe this is a perfect time to step back and evaluate your operational practices to determine if there are areas where cost savings can be realized.  Over the next four weeks, we will be unpacking four key opportunities that nearly all organizations can take advantage of to help reduce cost and improve operations during these challenging times.  Those key opportunities include the following:

Opportunities for Cost Reduction and Operational Improvement

Week 1: Streamlining Unstructured Data Storage

Week 2: Aftermath of a Cloud Technology Adoption

Week 3: Legacy System & Data Management

Week 4: Business Impact Analysis of Social Distancing

Week 1: Streamlining Unstructured Data Storage:

The storage conundrum abounds in almost every business. File shares have been around for many years and have largely remained unmanaged.  For the most part, file shares are used to store unstructured data and until recently, there have been very few tools on the market that are mature enough to manage unstructured file share records in the same manner as structured database records.  For many businesses, user and departmental file shares are likely some of the most expensive storage to acquire and maintain.  Users often desire high availability and redundancy in the event they accidentally delete content, which further drives up the cost for backup and archival infrastructure. However, when asked for details about the types of records stored on these file shares, few stakeholders have a clear and accurate picture.  Through our own client experiences, we find that on average 30% – 40% of unstructured storage is noise and can be removed. This noise is often categorized by the industry as “ROT” or Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial data. In addition, the average cost of adding additional (unnecessary) storage to some of these solutions can range from $3,000 – $5,000/TB.  As business operations have slowed down considerably in most industries, and remaining employees are anxious to participate in meaningful project work, we believe now is a perfect time to perform this type of classification and cleanup activity.  However, before this can take place, there are a few critical elements that must be reviewed:

Pre-Cleanup and Classification Elements

  1. Legal Holds: Organizations must understand what their current legal hold obligations are and what data sources may have responsive data to those litigation holds. Often legal holds represent a significant risk to organizations. In our experience, very few companies have all litigation holds defined in an authoritative system that provides the clarity needed to conduct defensible disposition.
  2. Retention Schedule: A check against the company’s retention schedule must take place. It sounds logical, yet, in our experience, many organizations have drafted retention schedules that can be difficult to navigate and apply.  At InfoCycle, we often support organizations as they build out a taxonomy to help crosswalk retention schedule codes into a more relevant schedule that can be applied to electronic data.
  3. Business Use: A determination must be made regarding the usefulness of the data to the business. Often, the perceived value of this data is much greater than the actual value. Users will hold onto files even if there is only a 1% chance that the file will ever be needed.  Yet, repeatedly, even if the file is located, it is so dated that it needs to be updated and retrofitted to meet the needs of the current situation.  Overcoming this final challenging hurdle is a culture shift and one that must be sponsored from the legal and compliance organization. Users must be able to act with confidence and know that they are doing what is best for the business.

Once these three pre-cleanup and classification elements are reviewed, organizations can proceed with cleanup operations. If a manual approach is too laborious, there are a number of different analysis tools on the market today that can assist with understanding content makeup and data activity patterns.  A simple scan of a file share can tell you exactly what data is active, who is using the content and whether sensitive content exists. Armed with this information, companies can begin to have critical discussions with stakeholders regarding what the defensible disposition process looks like.

So, What’s the ROI?

With a ROT percentage of 30% – 40% and an average cost of high-end disk storage being $3,000 – $5,000/TB, it is easy to see the quick return that an organization can realize by capitalizing on this opportunity.  Recently, our team at InfoCycle has helped companies recoup between $50,000 – $350,000 in storage costs by executing on this simple approach. In addition, we ask what better time than now?  Many organizations are seeking ways to cut operating costs, defer capital investments and keep their workforce busy on value-centric tasks. As many employees in the corporate world are facing “slower” days during the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe now is the perfect time to have them cleanup personal and departmental files that meet the aforementioned ROT criteria.

Unstructured content is a necessary evil for all businesses.  However, continuing to purchase storage to accommodate bad business processes and individual habits is simply throwing valuable resources at a broken system.

Contact InfoCycle today to talk through how they can assist in the analysis and clean-up of your redundant or obsolete content on your network storage.