“From using renewable energy sources to implementing electric vehicle (EV) fleets, businesses around the world are working hard to become more environmentally friendly. Yet, one factor that is rarely considered when thinking about reducing carbon footprints is the impact that data – specifically ‘dark data’ – has on the environment.
“Veritas’ Databerg research revealed that on average, 52% of all data stored by organisations worldwide is ‘dark’, meaning that those responsible for managing it don’t have any idea what that data is or the value it holds. Although UAE businesses fare a little better than the global average, dark data still stands at around 47% in the country.
“While the financial cost of dark data is often discussed, the environmental cost is usually overlooked. Storing dark data can consume an enormous amount of energy and, as a result, produce unnecessary carbon dioxide (CO2). In fact, 6.4 million tonnes of CO2 is unnecessarily pumped into the atmosphere per year as a result of powering the storage of dark data. And with analysts predicting that the amount of data that the world stores will surge to 175ZB by 2025- quadruple the amount of data stored in 2018 – the impact on the environment will be devastating unless we make changes now.
“Businesses can start making a big difference by simply taking control of their data, reviewing the storage policies around it and ensuring they’re not housing information that is no longer needed. Eliminating data waste can be hugely beneficial from a cost and compliance perspective, but it can also help reduce emissions and protect our planet.”
Veritas’ top tips
Veritas has defined best practices that will enable organisations worldwide not only to eliminate data waste with confidence but also help them to reduce cost and strengthen their compliance:
- Identify all data stores and gain overview: data mapping and data discovery are the first steps in understanding how information flows through an organisation. Gaining visibility and insight into where data and sensitive information is being stored, who has access to it and how long it is being retained is a critical first step in pursuit of dark data and the key foundation to build from.
- Illuminate dark data: a proactive data management approach allows organisations to gain visibility into their data, storage and back-up infrastructure, so they can take control of data associated risks and make well educated decisions which data can be deleted with confidence.
- Automate the discovery and data insight routines: to keep pace with the data explosion, companies should automate the analytics, tracking, and reporting necessary to deliver organisational accountability for dark data, file use and security. Companies might need to handle petabytes of data and billions of files, so their data insight approach should integrate with archiving, backup and security solutions to prevent data loss and ensure policy-based data retention.
- Minimise and place controls around data: data minimisation and purpose limitation ensure organisations reduce the amount of data being stored and establish what is retained is directly related to the purpose in which it was collected. Classification, flexible retention and compliant policy engines allow confident deletion of non-relevant information providing a cornerstone of any dark data project and company-wide compliance.
- Monitor to ensure continual adherence to compliance standards: compliance rules like GDPR introduce a duty on all organisations to report certain types of data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority, and in some cases to the individuals affected. Organisations must evaluate their ability to monitor breach activity and quickly trigger reporting procedures to ensure compliance.
- Instil a culture of compliance: when data is properly managed, it is the lifeblood of a business. But when it goes ‘dark’, it can be as damaging to businesses as the litter on our streets is to our environment. Through policies, training and communication, employees should be educated on the risks of a ‘save-it-all’ data hoarding approach. Executive buy-in is vital – changing company culture starts from the top of an organisation.