The New Challenges in Unstructured Data Management

Unstructured data management - is it worth it for your business?
30 August 2022

Unstructured data – delivering value and function.

Unstructured data management is a growing trend that allows businesses to leverage non-traditional elements of big data – the data that doesn’t obviously fit into the structured data analytics that have previously powered business decisions and development.

The second annual report on unstructured data management from Komprise has revealed several key issues that, beyond the hype, companies are facing as the technology and its processes evolve.

In particular in 2022, the growing adoption of cloud NAS and demand for end-user and departmental self-service in the cloud are key trends.

Genuine Data Services

Storage efficiencies have previously driven unstructured data management, but there are signs in the report that they’re being overtaken as a priority by the need to deliver actual data services in the cloud – including the ability to leverage file and object data in cloud analytics tools, to harvest value from those data.

The report surveyed enterprise-level businesses, and shows that 50% of enterprises are now managing 5PB of data or more. That’s a 10%+ increase on the 2021 report, when only 40% of enterprises were hitting that figure. That increase has a significant impact on enterprise IT budgets, with most companies (almost 68%) in the enterprise range spending more than 30% of their IT budgets on storage and backups.

That shows not only the importance that’s attached to cloud-based data in the age of increasing cyber-attack, but also the origins of another trend on which the report is clear. When 30% of the IT budget is dedicated to storage and backup, there’s an incentive to manage the stored data more effectively, delivering more granularity and ideally cutting the cost of doing so in the process.

The Use Case For Unstructured Data Management

That’s driving the use case for unstructured data, which can frequently deliver clearer data lifecycle management, as opposed to simple cost savings. That’s what is giving unstructured data management its increasing value proposition to enterprise-level companies – the combination of better data lifecycle management and a greater likelihood of squeezing business value out of the data companies are storing.

As cloud storage rises in prominence and ubiquity, on-premises data storage is waning year on year. While in the 2021 report, it was recorded at 20% of all enterprise-level data storage, that’s down to just 11.9% in 2022, just three-fifths of what it was last year. The largest obstacle enterprises reported standing in the way of their adoption of unstructured data management was the continual use of data by the workforce, meaning 42% of those surveyed said it was difficult to switch to the unstructured approach without disrupting users and applications.

That said, a healthy 65% of the organizations polled said they plan to or are already investing in delivering unstructured data to their new analytics/big data platforms. In particular, the idea of adopting new storage and cloud technologies – without incurring additional costs – appealed to 43% of those who responded to the survey.

Beyond the obvious cost savings, a similar 43% of companies said they expected cloud migrations to improve the self-service function for both end users and departments when it was implemented – giving a clear sign to unstructured data management companies of what their agenda should be if they’re to win business in the next 12 months.

The Need For Balanced Decisions

As well as the focus on improving the self-service function and delivering cost savings and increased data value, there are a handful of other issues to confront in unstructured data management over the course of the next year.

Not the least of those is the radical increase in data storage needs, as businesses shift gears from storing terabytes of data up to needing petabytes of space. That means a significant investment in legacy storage solutions – and in making sure any business-critical data is stored in ways that are safe from cyber-attack.

The increase in data storage, and the application of unstructured data management, could also require additional in-house staff training alongside the economic impact of using an unstructured data management firm, so the move is not one to be made lightly.

You have to be sure of both what the application of unstructured data management is going to bring your company in terms of flexibility and productivity, and that it makes bottom-line sense, before you push the “Go” button on unstructured data. In other words, factor in the total cost of your data management strategy, and set specific goals for cost savings, value increase and business benefits ahead of any call to an unstructured data specialist.