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Your Data Is Not Growing

Well, your active data isn't growing, or at least it isn't growing very fast. What is growing is the amount of data that you now hold on to. If you could eliminate that data, your ongoing investment in primary storage would be minimal.
Well, your active data isn't growing, or at least it isn't growing very fast. What is growing is the amount of data that you now hold on to. If you could eliminate that data, your ongoing investment in primary storage would be minimal.Depending on whose study you read, data that hasn't been accessed in the last six months is typically around 70% of all data stored on primary storage. I've seen some reports that suggest if you narrow that window to less than 90 days, that percentage typically grows to over 85%.

What is interesting about these reports is the percentage of data that isn't active seems to be growing and we have more inactive data both in terms of capacity and as an actual percentage of the overall data set. The last time these types of reports were talked about was during the ILM craze of around 2002 - 2003, where the typical report cited 50% to 60% of data had not been accessed in the last year.

What is happening is users are creating documents, editing those documents, e-mailing or copying those documents, and then within a very short period of time those documents go inactive. Our research shows that the typical lifespan of a file is about three weeks.

Being a pack rat seems to be part of the human condition and today's technology (and government regulations) fulfills our desire to keep everything. Technology has made it easy to keep our data, forever. The capacity per drive is bigger and the ability to expand volumes is much more straightforward then ever. You as the IT professional are left with very large concatenated volumes that create restore issues, consume power, and waste tier one storage investments.

This problem has to be solved, but to solve it will require an IT professional to build an ROI to justify the project. Next entry we will look at some of the solutions to the data growth problem and then we will look at developing an ROI.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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