In This Article

Data -- the lifeblood of enterprise and the heart of digital transformation -- is ever-changing and never-ending. IT and business leaders face major challenges in developing new approaches and strategies to store and manage their data in a way that enables, empowers and protects their organizations, while leveraging it to innovate and grow.

Here are some ways you can begin to address these challenges as they continue to unfold.

Challenge #1: Managing exponential data growth

IT leaders are struggling to deal with a massive explosion of unstructured data, or data that doesn't fit into traditional databases. Instead, much of it goes into file systems as files or object systems as objects. Increasingly, unstructured data includes streaming data, which requires recording it, making sense of it and turning it into actionable insights in near real or real-time. It includes data like genome sequences, movies and IoT sensor data from machines. Lately, it also includes more video surveillance and data from thermal imaging cameras, which can be used to identify people with fevers moving through spaces, for example.

What can you do?

1. Understand what you have now.

The first thing to do is to gain an in-depth, data-driven understanding of what you currently have. This accomplishes several things: First, it gives you a starting point from which to make changes and measure progress as you prepare for the future. Secondly, it enables you to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement. And finally, it helps you begin to rethink your strategy and approach to cloud, data and your data center. 

Consider cleaning it up, closing gaps and finding ways to streamline and increase efficiencies before you move data or change your approach.

2. Consider how unstructured and nontraditional data could help drive innovation and growth, and how it could impact your current strategies and approaches as well as your organization's future plans.

New types of data represent a challenge, but also an incredible opportunity to enable your users and organization to make better decisions, create new revenue streams and improve the client experience to drive growth. Perhaps meet with different lines of business, marketing, finance or other areas to discuss what types of information or insights they would love to have but currently do not. 

3. Educate yourself on new technologies, and analyze how they could work with, compliment or replace what you have.

Developing an understanding of emerging technologies and new approaches could also inspire new ideas as you continue to address this unfolding trend. 

Challenge #2: App modernization and data management in multicloud 

Leveraging public, hybrid and multicloud most effectively requires application modernization and radically new approaches to managing data.

4. If you haven't already, consider moving from a hybrid cloud to a multicloud strategy.

Organizations' approach to cloud has changed drastically from simply moving workloads to the public cloud and managing a hybrid cloud environment. Today, many organizations focus more on maximizing their options -- including multiple on-prem, private or public cloud options -- so they can easily move data and workloads and leverage the right provider or tools for specific purposes. 

This means they are not just gathering data from the edge or other sites, but they are also making it accessible to take advantage of services that are cost-effective and deliver optimal outcomes. Perhaps consider solutions that connect to all major public clouds and provide you with direct access to the data to maximize your choices and best leverage to your organization's benefit. After all, according to Forbes, the pandemic's widespread disruption "highlighted the value of having as agile and adaptable a cloud infrastructure as you can."

5. Make sure you closely manage consumption and storage costs in the cloud.

Many organizations continue to be surprised by the sky-high, seemingly unmanageable costs of storage and consumption in the cloud. Engaging consultants to figure out what they're paying for has become a common occurrence. The fact is, cloud is great for highly elastic and/or predictable data, but not for data that needs to last for years, and not for unlimited consumption by users that could lead to multiple duplications and potential use of expensive storage for low-value data. 

Often, IT leaders mistakenly expect that services or upgrades to solutions used by cloud providers will be automatically provided to them; the fact is, you have to ask for the addition of those services. Be sure you understand what services you get in your agreement and that you ask for any additional support you need. And of course, remember to reduce and dedupe your data before you update it to the cloud. 

6. Be clear on the data protection you can expect for your data in the cloud.

Know what data is protected in the cloud, and to what level. Often, IT professionals assume their data in the cloud is protected from Ransomware or other attacks, for example, when it is not included in the agreement. 

Challenge #3: Cyber recovery and Cybersecurity

The massive, pandemic-driven shift to remote work fed a sharp rise in ransomware attacks, which experts say will continue to increase in 2021

You can take many steps to ensure your cybersecurity remains strong. 

7. Continue to do the basics well. 

Make sure your environment is hardened and protected. And remember it is beyond endpoint and network security; data protection plays a role too.

8. Plan your ransomware response now. 

Your backup is your last defense, and sadly, sustaining a ransomware attack is a "when," not an "if." Invest in response and recovery. Have a plan and test it. Make decisions now for how you will respond. And do your best to secure your organization against it. 

9. Be proactive with ransomware.

Don't just wait to be attacked; leverage solutions that use AI and ML to identify activity that indicates ransomware, for example, when the change rate increases drastically or the file type no longer matches the extension. Also, consider developing the capability to provide an air gap copy of your data in the event of an attack. Some immutable solutions have been breached with attacks resulting in time drift. Fortunately, new solutions have been developed and continue to emerge, such as Dell Technology's air gap vault. 

Challenge #4: Continuously track cost and time to value for your storage and data center investments

Your technology decisions have significant cost and impact to your organization, so it is crucial to continuously measure, monitor and communicate cost and ROI of your investments to the business or leadership, as well as the vision those investments support.

10. Focus on accelerating and tracking time to value and keeping business leaders informed so you ensure continued alignment with business goals and strategies, as well as continued executive support.

Make the most of your investments by discovering your greatest data challenges