Tom Scearce is product marketing manager at Attachmate and Novell for the enterprise file management market.
By 2020, research firm IDC predicts a 4,300 percent increase in worldwide data and that annual data creation will reach 40 zettabytes. To put that in perspective, 40 zettabytes is equivalent to 360 million years of BlueRay quality video or the data created if every citizen posted three tweets per minute for the next 598,867 years.
Does your enterprise have a plan for handling this data explosion?
For most companies, the answer is no. Before files were digitized they were much more intrusive – if a stack of papers and file folders littered your work area and impeded your productivity, you probably felt compelled to organize. Today, all of this clutter has gone digital and lives on your organization’s file servers. But since these files are out of sight now, they’re also out of mind. So what was once a tidy garden of tabs, labels and manila folders is now an overgrown jungle of unstructured data.
IT managers have ignored runaway storage growth largely because the marginal cost of more disk space is low, and they’re swamped with more urgent problems. But global trends like ubiquitous connectivity, widespread smartphone adoption and the drive to collaborate productively are making companies re-think the importance of files. As file creation accelerates, demand to access those files grows. It’s clear that enterprises need a plan to manage the coming “filepocalypse.”
Accordingly, there’s been a surge of market activity around all things related to data and files. From file sync and share services to file networking tools, there are dozens, if not hundreds of products and services available today. In the file sync and share sector alone there are close to 100 companies, a number that is sure to increase. In addition to being overloaded with files, IT departments also have countless file-sharing tools to help sift through them. So, how can organizations tame these file jungles?
The first step to an orderly filing system is managing file overload. First, identify all files, how and when they got there, and who owns them. It’s important to understand what’s sitting on your servers – there may be multiple copies of the same files, files that are no longer needed, or sensitive information needing special governance.
You could deploy a small team of IT pros to sift through the entire file system, but that consumes time, money, and leaves room for human error. A safer, more efficient approach is to automate file reporting so you can visualize the entire file system. This gives you clear insights into areas of risk and opportunity, and reveals the actions you can take to make your file system more manageable.
Of course, a well-managed file system is not a one-time event. It’s important that your files stay organized. Otherwise, any cleanup effort is a waste of time. One of the best ways to maintain order is to tailor a storage policy based on each employee’s role within the organization, even as roles change. For example, when a new hire starts he or she automatically gains access to files appropriate to his or her job function. Later, when that same employee changes roles or departments, access rights automatically adjust, ensuring that the system stays organized and files remain secure.
Now that your files jungle has been tamed into an orderly and productive garden, you’re ready to wow your company’s mobile workers and the people with whom they share files. Look for solutions that give users the ease of use and productivity they need without compromising IT’s charter to secure and manage the underlying data. In the absence of a user friendly option sanctioned by IT, employees will turn to public cloud-based services that may lack the security and data management features your firm requires. Choosing the right file sharing solution will improve your return on investment.
Thinking differently about file management and sharing may not seem like a top priority for your organization today. But those files contain one your company’s most vital assets: information. With a new file management process, and a file sharing system that meets the needs of users and IT, that file jungle you tamed into a garden will soon be a sustainable farm that safely yields valuable crops for your VIP customers around the world.
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