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What is data sprawl?

Big data is becoming huge data and is burying IT in governance headaches and compliance risk.
10 July 2020 Michael Holtzhausen

Your business’s data is arguably its most valuable asset. So logically, this should mean that the more of it you have, the better. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Businesses are producing vast amounts of data daily and this shows no signs of slowing down. When new departments are formed and workforces become more distributed, data spreads to new places where it continues to accumulate.

If nothing is done about this explosion of data, it spreads uncontrollably and becomes a nightmare to fully visualise, let alone manage. This is the problem of data sprawl – and it can have disastrous consequences for the value and integrity of a business’s data.

Can you tell where your business’s data starts and stops? Read on to learn more about data sprawl and how you can rein it in.

How does data sprawl happen?

Think of data like fire. It’s easy to create but, if you look away for too long, it can grow in size, spread out and become difficult to control. Data proliferation in modern businesses is inevitable, but what’s lacking is oversight and central control. There are several reasons why data sprawl happens. These are:

  • Bad BYOD policies. Employees who bring all types of devices to the office and use them to access your data can cause a proliferation of unknown endpoints.
  • Siloed data centres. If you have unintegrated data storage centres, there could be countless copies of your data across them based on location or department.
  • Disparate operating systems. If you use a mix of operating systems like Windows, Mac, Ubuntu and Linux, your data could be duplicated across multiple systems in various formats.
  • Remote work. There has been an unforeseen surge in remote work resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. This has left many devices outside the security boundaries of companies where the organisation’s data can be leaked or misused.

What are the consequences of data sprawl?

Non-compliance is a significant consequence of uncontrolled data sprawl. Businesses in the finance and health industries have a legal obligation to ensure data security. Data sprawl can undermine data security strategies, which will soon become a problem for all businesses as tight data privacy becomes a differentiator.

Data sprawl can also lead to poor decision-making. If you don’t have full visibility or central control of your data, it can be difficult to collect and analyse. This might result in bad strategic decisions that can cost your business.

Data devaluation is also a serious concern. If you’re not sure how many copies of your data exist on which cloud servers and remote devices, your trade secrets and intellectual property can easily fall into the wrong hands. Your business’s data is only an asset if it is well-guarded, and this holds true for SMEs and large enterprises.

All of this can lead to a lack of business confidence. In other words, your business will always be reacting to market shifts instead of possessing the intelligence and confidence to get ahead of them. You’re bound to lose your competitive edge if the security, integrity and value of your data are stripped away.

Rein it in with STS

Do you feel like you’ve lost control of your business’s opportunity to act? Then now is the time to take action. STS has a wide range of solutions that can help you rein in your data sprawl. From scalable and software-defined data storage to archiving that can help you securely warehouse your data, we can help you take the first steps to regain your data’s value. Visit our solutions page to learn more about how we can help you.

Understanding data sprawl and how to fix it
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