Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Open Source Authors: Dan Ristic, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Adrian Bridgwater

Related Topics: Big Data Journal, Java, Microservices Journal, .NET, Virtualization, Cloud Expo

Big Data Journal: Article

The ‘A-ha’ About Active and Inactive Data

Despite advances in technology, the way we manage the growth in files has not changed much in the last decade or two

How many kinds of files are in use in your organization? Fifty? A hundred? More?

Wrong. There are only two kinds of files: active files and inactive files. (I admit it was a trick question.) Users create a file - a spreadsheet, an image, an invoice, etc. As long as the file is being worked with, it's an active file. Users can share, collaborate, and edit the file to their heart's content, but eventually the file is no longer current, and it becomes inactive.

But in this litigious and increasingly regulated world, there is no such thing as deleting a file. You're stuck with that inactive file, for years, if not forever, like your 30-year-old college dropout kid who still lives in the basement.

Despite advances in technology and a proliferation of alternatives, the way we manage the growth in files has not changed much in the last decade or two. We let the volume of files grow until it consumes all of the available resources, and then we throw money at the problem. Or we throw money at someone else who does essentially the same thing, just with cheaper disks.

Years ago, it was not a bad strategy. The majority of all files were active. The cost of having inactive files in the same pool was small. Today, it's an outdated strategy, and it's a costly strategy, one that few CIOs and budget-minded IT administrators feel particularly good about anymore. That's one positive side effect of the global economic recession: operations of all sizes, including Fortune 1000s and large government agencies, have much less tolerance for deferring a problem by throwing money at it.

It frankly makes no sense to spend thousands to millions of dollars on more and more primary storage to store obsolete or redundant files. It makes even less sense when we consider that runaway data growth is something of a myth when it comes to active files: in most organizations; the volume of active files - the files people create and use to do their jobs day in and day out - remains nearly fixed.

How can this be? Consider the way most workplaces operate. Your company pays its staff to work on different things this week than what they worked on last week or last month. Employees create new files for each new project, and their previous ones become inactive. In a typical organization, inactive data is responsible for data growth, not active data, whereas, the number of active files is proportional to the number of employees available to use them. For the most part, in three years, you'll have about the same number of active files as you have today, assuming you have the same headcount. Most companies add a few employees, let a few employees go, generate more files during the busy season, then fewer files during the lean times. In general, however, the number of users and the amount of active files will stay relatively constant. In this post melt-down economy, no one is hiring like there's no tomorrow. In fact, five-figure layoffs are still a common occurrence; they just don't make the news anymore.

If you've been in business for at least a few years, it's safe to assume two-thirds of your files are inactive. What's more, once saved to the network, 80 percent of your files will never even be looked at again.

Note that "looking at" an old file is not the same as "working on" an old file. An inactive file may be requested for research or reference purposes, but it won't be edited. When it reaches that stage of inactivity, it's in essence a read-only file. This means your inactive file data should be managed as a read-only archive - since the odds bet is read never, and the next best bet is read-only.

With these considerations in mind, purchasing additional primary storage to manage inactive file growth is unjustifiable, especially considering that storage operating costs can be five times the initial acquisition costs.

The growth of inactive files has an additional administrative cost when one adds on the constant cycle of backups. It's not unusual for an organization performing a standard weekly full backup, plus nightly incremental backups, to have 15, 20, even 25 copies of file data at any time. One of our customers, a multinational banking and financial services firm, was maintaining 28 copies of each file until we came in to provide relief.

Employing the same old backup tactics with online storage saves money on hardware, but does not address the core problem of file proliferation. Transferring inactive files to less costly archival storage media works well on paper, but not in practice. Both these methods suffer from inefficiencies and insecurities. Physically moving a petabyte of data can take months, and finding a file takes arduously long (if it's ever found at all; more than 60 percent of the time, it's not). This can spell the end of the business when a federal court judge comes around asking the company to produce a few thousand documents.

The real savings kick in when the typical file backup strategy is scrapped in favor of tiering, which is based on an online archive for inactive files. The key to achieving this is controlling and managing how and when files are moved - in other words, when a file becomes inactive.

The goal is to categorize data, properly manage it, and move the right data to the second tier to reduce costs, address compliance issues, and meet electronic discovery requirements. Granted, the cost, time, and complexity involved in scanning the entire file system and moving data to an archive can be onerous. However, event- and policy-driven software that automates these processes based on age, type, size or access frequency makes this a much smaller chore.

With this method, it's not unusual to see a two-thirds reduction in the cost of storing and protecting inactive files in the first year alone, and the savings accumulate as the inactive file load grows. One manufacturing customer calculated their first-year savings as 82 percent. Even if the initial costs of this tiered approach are twice as much as storage hardware (which seems unlikely), there would still be a savings as time goes by, since operating costs always exceed acquisition costs.

This second tier for inactive data can be maintained as a read-only archive, since it's very unlikely these files will be changed again. For example, an engineering firm may want to view the architectural plans from a project they did two years ago, but it's unlikely they would make any edits on that original file. This can deliver additional savings over time.

If no other message resonates, we hope we've at least established that traditional methods of accommodating data growth do not make sense when it's inactive, infrequently accessed, obsolete files that are typically responsible for that growth. Expensive primary storage, and the Sisyphean task of regular backups, will not solve the problem of inactive files.

More Stories By Bruce Backa

Bruce Backa, CEO of NTP Software®, a leader in File Data Management, is recognized as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Prior to founding NTP Software nearly 20 years ago, he held CTO positions at the international insurance and financial services firm AIG and the American Stock Exchange. He holds several U.S. and international patents related to data management, and was awarded the Kemeny Prize in Computing from Dartmouth College.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Site24x7, the cloud infrastructure monitoring service, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Site24x7 is a cloud infrastructure monitoring service that helps monitor the uptime and performance of websites, online applications, servers, mobile websites and custom APIs. The monitoring is done from 50+ locations across the world and from various wireless carriers, thus providing a global perspective of the end-user experience. Site24x7 supports monitoring H...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Intelligent Systems Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1994, Intelligent Systems Services Inc. is located near Washington, DC, with representatives and partners nationwide. ISS’s well-established track record is based on the continuous pursuit of excellence in designing, implementing and supporting nationwide clients’ mission-critical systems. ISS has completed many successful projects in Healthcare, Commercial, Manufacturing, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud, a provider of enterprise resource planning software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. B2cloud develops the software you need. They have the ideal tools to help you work with your clients. B2Cloud’s main solutions include AGIS – ERP, CLOHC, AGIS – Invoice, and IZUM
The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. He is a Microsoft Regional Director for Hyderabad, India, and one of the f...
VoxImplant has announced full WebRTC support in the newest versions of its Android SDK and iOS SDK. The updated SDKs, which enable audio and video calls on mobile devices, are now compatible with the WebRTC standard to allow any mobile app to communicate with WebRTC-enabled browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and, when available, Microsoft Spartan. The WebRTC-updated SDKs represent VoxImplant's continued leadership in simplifying the development of real-time communications (RTC) services for app developers. VoxImplant (built by Zingaya, the real-time communication servi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tufin, the market-leading provider of Security Policy Orchestration Solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As the market leader of Security Policy Orchestration, Tufin automates and accelerates network configuration changes while maintaining security and compliance. Tufin's award-winning Orchestration Suite™ gives IT organizations the power and agility to enforce security policy across complex, multi-vendor enterprise networks. With more than 1...
SYS-CON Events announced today that kintone has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. kintone promotes cloud-based workgroup productivity, transparency and profitability with a seamless collaboration space, build your own business application (BYOA) platform, and workflow automation system.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudian, Inc., is a Foster City, California - based software company specializing in cloud storage software. The main product is Cloudian, an Amazon S3-compliant cloud object storage platform, the bedrock of cloud computing systems, that enables cloud service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable cloud storage solu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Open Data Centers (ODC), a carrier-neutral colocation provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Open Data Centers is a carrier-neutral data center operator in New Jersey and New York City offering alternative connectivity options for carriers, service providers and enterprise customers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that On the Avenue Marketing Group, a sales and marketing firm that utilizes events to market and sell products to consumers, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. On the Avenue Marketing Group (OTA) is a sales and marketing firm that utilizes events to market and sell products to consumers. On behalf of our clients, we attend thousands of fairs, festivals, expos, concerts, conferences, and sporting events annually, helping them reach millions of individuals ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ActiveState, the leading independent Cloud Foundry and Docker-based PaaS provider, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. ActiveState believes that enterprises gain a competitive advantage when they are able to quickly create, deploy and efficiently manage software solutions that immediately create business value, but they face many challenges that prevent them from doing so. The Company is uniquely positioned to help address these challenges thro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.