The Allure of Data Consolidation

 

Enterprises are increasingly moving their data to the cloud. In fact, the typical enterprise hosts over 1,100 cloud services on average. With respect to enterprise content management (ECM) systems, it’s not uncommon for an organisation to have data stored in: SharePoint, SharePoint Online, Documentum, OpenText, File shares, Dropbox, Google Drive for Work and Box.

Why so many? Wouldn’t it make sense to pick one ECM system and consolidate all enterprise data onto one or two systems? Wouldn’t it be convenient to have all enterprise data in one location, making it easier to search, edit, collaborate and store?

Well, as the old saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. There are a number of drawbacks to this strategy that can drastically impact an organisation’s operations, budget, data security, data privacy and the ability to demonstrate compliance with industry requirements. Let’s take a closer look: 

What’s at stake?

Budget

As businesses grow, they generate more data and therefore need more places to store that data. They may outgrow some legacy ECM systems, adopt new systems as a result of merger or acquisition, or trial a new system as part of a larger software deal. Complicating matters further, that data needs to be backed up or, in many regions in the world, stored locally. It makes sense therefore that there’s a trend to move data to the cloud where it’s easier to manage. Nevertheless, all of these ECM systems cost money to deploy and maintain.

Investing in a data consolidation initiative would likely include significant professional services fees and could increase an enterprise’s IT budget by six or seven figures. This would be a significant expense for most organisations. As a result, it will be imperative for CIOs to deliver considerable ROI to justify this kind of an investment. If the migration stumbles or fails, it could be a career-limiting move for most CIOs.

Operations

Migrating enterprise data isn’t as easy as cutting and pasting files and folders. It’s not out of the ordinary for large organisations to generate petabytes or more of content and data. For example, with hundreds of sensors being installed in aircraft engines, one Boeing 737 engine generates 10 terabytes (TB) of data every 30 minutes in flight and a twin-engine aircraft on a transatlantic flight produces 240 TB of data. To store one terabyte of data would require approximately 1,400 CD-ROMs, 220 DVDs, or 40 single-layer Blu-ray discs.

As the volume of data increases at an alarming rate, consolidating that data would be an enormous undertaking that is sure to prove disruptive to operations. In addition, shutting down a legacy system could have repercussions for the larger ecosystem given how integrated these systems are to an organisation’s broader IT infrastructure. The traditional “rip and replace” practice isn’t so cut and dry in today’s IT environment.

Data Security

In this current threat environment, a data breach isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.” Security concerns are heightened when data is stored in a public cloud, as credentials and permissions are typically poorly managed and activity monitoring is often weaker.

By contrast, a private cloud deployment ensures full availability, integrity and confidentiality of an enterprise’s data as servers, storage, application service, meta-data and authentication are all managed within the firewall. A public cloud storage provider cannot make these claims. CIOs are well aware of the security limitations of a public cloud deployment and are choosing private or hybrid cloud deployments as an alternative. It’s just not worth the risk

Data Privacy

A data breach isn’t the only way in which an organisation’s data can be compromised in the public cloud. If a U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agency wants access to an organisation’s data, a public cloud storage provider must comply. It doesn’t matter if the data is encrypted because the public cloud storage provider either manages the encryption keys or shares access to them. With data stored in a private cloud, there is only one set of encryption keys and they belong to the owner of the content.

Data privacy is considerably more complicated when the data involves EU citizens. While Privacy Shield may still not be ratified, the requirement to store European customer data locally appears non-negotiable. In fact, the EU has already fined companies not in compliance. While some public cloud storage providers have negotiated agreements with European partners to store European customer data, it is still under debate who would have jurisdiction over that data: the European partner housing the data or the U.S. company that owns the customer relationship. This debate makes many EU regulators and privacy advocates both suspicious and uneasy. Is it in any European company’s best interest to challenge the EU’s authority or raise the ire of EU citizens?

Compliance

With the increase in the number and severity of data breaches, industry compliance requirements that verify data security are becoming more prevalent and more important. The compliance landscape is a veritable sea of acronyms in which no industry is immune.

Can organisations be absolutely certain that by consolidating all of their data into a public cloud that they will be compliant with all corporate and industry compliance requirements? While public cloud providers support a number of industry compliance requirements, the fact that it stores customer data in the public cloud makes it non-compliant with many organisations’ internal compliance requirements. The lack of faith in public cloud security is a big driver behind the emergence of hybrid clouds; some companies simply cannot or will not store sensitive content in the public cloud.

Why migrate hundreds of thousands or millions of files onto a single platform if you don’t have to?

In any enterprise, each ECM system has its own unique purpose and, from a technology perspective, each has its own unique set of strengths and capabilities. As a result, enterprises should be able to choose a best of breed ECM solution based on system strengths and corporate requirements rather than having to choose, adapt to and accommodate just one system.

If an organisation had a unified view into content stored across the enterprise, regardless of whether that content was stored on-premises or in the cloud, there wouldn’t be a need to consolidate enterprise data. kiteworks by Accellion offers enterprise organisations this single pane of glass view. With kiteworks, enterprise employees have a unified view into on-premises ECM systems such as Microsoft SharePoint, Windows File Shares, Documentum, OpenText, as well as cloud solutions including Microsoft OneDrive for Business, Google Drive for Work, Dropbox, and Box.

Not only is access to content simplified with kiteworks, but workflows are too. Files can be opened, edited and shared securely from any type of device. Also, employees don’t have to recall which file is stored in which ECM system. Users can search from kiteworks and, once a file is edited or revised, it doesn’t have to be duplicated or uploaded back to the ECM system of origin. This enables end users and system administrators to more easily track and manage draft versions to maintain the integrity of the document of record.

And because kiteworks is an on-premises, private cloud deployment, there is no co-mingling of data. Organisations also have complete ownership of their encryption keys to enable full control over the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of their content. Lastly, IT departments enjoy centralized audit and reporting capabilities to ensure enterprise security and compliance.

Consolidating data just isn’t worth the cost or risk, particularly when kiteworks by Accellion provides a more efficient and secure alternative.

For a great overview of single pane of glass and the value it provides enterprise employees and their organisations, watch this brief video.

Blog written by Ajay Nigam, AccellionAccellion W White Border