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News

Security considerations in data banking

InfoSecurity Europe : 18 December, 2009  (Special Report)
Peter Bauer of Mimecast examines Information Business 2.0 and what it means for enterprise data banking
See our events guide listing for more details

Although the banking industry is somewhat tarnished in 2009, the basic tenants of a bank still remain clear. Banks are repositories for our money to ensure secure keeping and enable essential commercial transactions to take place without the need to carry large amounts of cash. The value in banking is not just facilitating transactions, but the aggregation of millions of savers deposits to create value through investment in external projects; and subsequently generate interest for savers.

Businesses can draw a similar parallel with the concept of data banking. Security has to be a given, access in the form of ediscovery and value add in the form of business continuity; but the real upside is deriving business intelligence drawn from the aggregation of vast quantities of data collated from a multitude of unstructured sources.

IDC research shows that digital information is accelerating at an incredible rate; in 2007 281 exabytes of information was created, stored or replicated. By 2011 that number will reach 1,800 exabytes. That includes all digital information including digital cameras, video, MP3, RFID tags, etc.

Not all of this is relevant to the enterprise which is responsible for between 25-30% of the data. It's still a considerable amount; but this has been tied down in databases, in data centers and inside corporate applications.

Unfortunately this is not the case. Although this is true of structured data, that only accounts for around 20% of all enterprise digital assets; the remainder is largely unmanaged and resides on desktops, portables and mobile devices scattered all around the business. Unstructured data is created using desktop applications and other productivity tools, and stored locally, roughly 80% being emailed around the business to colleagues inside and outside your organisation.

This is the sharp end of the creative cycle where an enormous amount of original thinking, discussion and argument is forged into concrete ideas and ultimately, high value intellectual property.

The concept of data banking for business is to draw together sources of unstructured data into a secure and valuable data store. Starting with email and providing a unified environment to manage security, continuity and archiving, the richness of such a solution is provided through a tight coupling with on-site mail servers and with desktop utilities such as Outlook to ensure a consistent working environment.

The attachment profile of email today ensures that around 80 percent of a company's unstructured data is captured through email. Add to that other effective workflows for unstructured data; SharePoint and Instant Messaging, and the aggregation of data starts to get above 90 percent capture. Which is an effective ceiling for this type of data.

In a parallel with the financial world the secure storage and access to digital assets is useful; but the real value comes from other services that can be provided from aggregating data together.

The cost of not managing the avalanche of information can add up, yet not be immediately visible to CEOs and CFOs. In surveys of US companies, information workers spend 14.5 hours per week reading and answering email, 13.3 hours creating documents, 9.6 hours searching for information, and 9.5 hours analysing information. An organisation employing 1,000 knowledge workers loses $5.7 million annually just in time wasted having to reformat information as they move among applications. Not finding information costs that same organisation an additional $5.3 million a year1. Utilising a data bank with advanced search techniques and the ability to apply 'fuzzy' logic to aid the association of ideas will greatly increase the productivity of users when locating files and joining the dots between disparate thought processes.

The aggregation of government and trade bodies rules such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, SEC rule 17a-4, FDA Rule 21CFR Part 11, Basel II; have created a substantial framework for modern businesses to operate within. In order to comply with these rules organisations must apply standards around the protection of data, long term storage and ediscovery. Managing this process from an archive that contains the majority of a company's unstructured data and provides advanced discovery technology will greatly reduce the burden of data management for compliance purposes.

The real value of a data bank is through sophisticated management of aggregated unstructured data to effectively add structure. By ensuring all metadata is stored with information, by examining words or phrases in context and applying powerful indexing engines it is possible to provide an environment that makes data behave like structured data; providing significant business value not just for storage, discovery and retrieval; but for managing the very essence of creative content that has so long eluded the enterprise.

This is the promise of enterprise data banking.

Mimecast is exhibiting at Infosecurity Europe 2010, the No. 1 industry event in Europe held on 27th - 29th April in its new venue Earl's Court, London. The event provides an unrivalled free education programme, exhibitors showcasing new and emerging technologies and offering practical and professional expertise.
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