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Studies find proliferation of data poses huge IT challenge

The mass propagation of data across multiple storage silos is getting out of control in many organizations. IT administrators cite it as a top concern.

If you feel like you're drowning in data, you're not alone.

Research surveys show modern proliferation of data leads to IT complexity, as organizations need to add storage management tools in lieu of efficient centralized management.

A survey conducted by Vanson Bourne -- and commissioned by Cohesity -- highlighted how data management has become fragmented. It also showed a high level of alarm inside IT organizations. Vanson Bourne surveyed 900 IT professionals with decision-making power at organizations with 1,000 or more employees. The survey asked respondents about the proliferation of data across locations, storage silos and management systems.

The survey found 35% of respondents use six or more products to manage their secondary data. Sixty-three percent said they have between four and 15 copies of the same data, and 85% of organizations store their data in two to five public clouds. Eighty-seven percent of respondents view this as a problem, saying their organization's secondary data will become impossible to manage long term.

Peter Linkin, senior director of enterprise marketing at Cohesity, based in San Jose, Calif., said it was something he long suspected, but was never quantified in a study. Indeed, the growing difficulty of managing the proliferation of data is no secret in the industry, as vendors such as Igneous Systems and Rubrik each have products that enable organizations to inventory, move and manage data across multiple silos from a centralized interface.

Cohesity takes a converged secondary storage approach that consolidates storage of many data types.

Chart showing the consequences of data fragmentation
Top concerns of respondents, should data complexity continue to grow unchecked

"It underscored what we kind of felt was already the problem," Linkin said. "It has now been identified and quantified in this survey. It's not just us saying it."

All of these high-pressure, conflicting demands are happening on the same IT teams that probably have not had a resource or budget increase in quite some time.
Peter Linkinsenior director of enterprise marketing, Cohesity

Edwin Yuen, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said ESG research had similar findings. Although not specifically addressing data proliferation, an ESG study found 68% of respondents said their IT complexity was increasing. Of those, 41% said higher data volumes were the main driver of complexity.

"I think that IT complexity is top of mind for companies, especially since many expected the cloud and new software automation were going to reduce complexity, not increase it," Yuen said.

The Vanson Bourne study found the issue alarming to many IT professionals, as 26% of the respondents said they would quit their jobs if the proliferation of data wasn't reined in. Other concerns respondents cited included morale loss (42%) and massive turnover (38%).

"All of these high-pressure, conflicting demands are happening on the same IT teams that probably have not had a resource or budget increase in quite some time," Linkin said. He found it especially significant that so many respondents were willing to quit their jobs over it.

ESG's Yuen found vendors approach this problem by either consolidating storage of the data -- as in Cohesity's case -- or by consolidating the management of that data, which is what Rubrik does. In both cases, customers get a single viewpoint to manage their data. But Yuen said, oftentimes, customers don't know which approach works best for them.

"Since the market is fairly new, the end user's own awareness of their needs is new," Yuen said. "That is why it's been so difficult so far. But it's also why I see the market crystalizing their needs in the near future."

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