Cloud, free storage fuel data hoarding among Singapore firms

​Only 9 percent of data in the average Singapore organisation is identified as business critical, or clean data, while 38 percent is deemed to be redundant, obsolete, or trivial.

Only 9 percent of data in the average Singapore organisation is identified as business critical, or clean data, while 38 percent is deemed to be redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT).

Compared to the global average of 15 percent, Singapore companies had a lower clean data percentage, and their ROT data was worse than the global average of 33 percent, according to Veritas Technologies' Global Databerg Report.

Businesses in the city-state also had more "dark data", at 53 percent, compared to the global average of 52 percent, revealed the report, which surveyed more than 2,500 IT professionals across 22 countries, including Singapore, Japan, Australia, and China. Veritas defined ROT data as information with little or no business value to the organisation, while dark data encompassed information which value had yet to be identified and could carry business critical data or otherwise.

Across the globe, more than 40 percent of stored data remained untouched in over three years and deemed "stale", though, these also did not exclude data that the organisation might need to retain to comply with government regulations.

"With organisations creating and storing data at an ever-increasing rate due to a data-hoarding culture, as well as an indifferent attitude to retention policy, there is a need to proactively minimise ROT data by securely deleting it on a regular basis," said Chris Lin, Veritas' senior vice president and Asia-Pacific Japan sales leader.

He told ZDNet that enterprises' tendency to data-hoard was fuelled by increased dependence on free storage and cloud adoption. Furthermore, IT strategies often were based on the volume of data stored and processed, instead of the actual value of the data, Lin said, adding that this encouraged a "store-all mentality".

He noted that 13 percent of respondents worldwide said they currently did not or had no plans to assess their data strategy, which meant they would spend an increasing amount on managing data that might have little or no value to their business.

In addition, employees regarded their company's systems as "dumping grounds", using these to store unstructured data including personal photos, legal documents, music, video, and games. In fact, Singapore fared the poorest with regards to ensuring employees observed corporate data policies, with 39 percent of staff storing personal data on work devices.

According to Lin, 77 percent of Singapore respondents said employees stored their personal legal and ID documents at work, while 75 percent stored photos, and 65 percent stored non-approved software. Not surprising then that 49 percent said businesses should be concerned about employees who were careless about how they handled corporate data.

"With dark data, organisations face risks when they are unable to identify the data they are storing," he noted. "This could create compliance risks as the files could be illegal data like music or unlicensed software, or it could be personal identified data that should be better protected. There is also the risk of losing critical data [if stored among] dark data, [resulting in] an unclassified file being shared and accessible to everyone."

He added that not knowing the true value of their stored data could mean missed opportunities for the organisations, which would not be able to tap such information for analytics.

If left unaddressed, Veritas estimated that storing ROT and dark data could cost organisations worldwide some S$4.6 trillion by 2020. According to the vendor the average mid-size company would spend more than S$900,000 a year storing 1,000TB of data.

In Singapore, managing ROT and dark data could cost businesses S$966 million, Lin said. "There is an immediate need for organisations in Singapore to take control of their databerg and identify business value and risk. Today, only 14 percent of organisations in Singapore do so.

"Data needs to be classified based on the organisation's data retention policy and there is a growing demand for an effective information journey for dark data to be implemented," he added. "Organisations need to implement better storage strategies, and base their buying decisions on data value rather than its volume."