Every business has experienced an explosive increase in information storage in recent years. Companies have managed this expansion through replacing physical disk storage by greater capacities in similar-sized but lower-cost units (for instance higher capacity SATA drives), and using new storage techniques to boost percentage disk utilisation or shrink the data footprint (virtualisation, thin provisioning, single instancing/de-duplication and so on). An extra catalyst, which has helped ROI justification for a change of hardware and software, has been the resulting reduction in power, heat output and space needed once the systems have been upgraded—reducing ongoing IT costs (as well as promoting a ‘green’ image which is particularly attractive to senior corporate executives).
So far so good; but there is no guarantee that technological advances will keep pace with the ever-increasing data volumes. Moreover, an increasingly burdensome regulatory business environment, plus a ramping up of litigation for non-compliance with these new regulations, threatens to greatly exacerbate data storage needs—as well as increasing vulnerability to data security breaches.
The need for compliance with these regulations, including longer retention periods and a greater need for proving the integrity of the data through tightened security, has become very high on the agenda for most large organisations in the last couple of years. The size and scope of the compliance task has meant that some enterprises are already employing a full-time compliance manager (or equivalent) separately from, for instance, a risk manager to oversee what is a many-faceted issue. The need to achieve and maintain compliance with current and upcoming regulations will mean storage volumes rocketing—potentially outstripping the technological advances that have so far contained capacity.