Increase Data Availability by Busting Network Silos

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By: Pam Baker|

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In this data-driven world, across-the-board data availability is critical.

“The biggest obstacle to using advanced data analysis isn’t skill base or technology; it’s plain old access to the data,” writes Edd Wilder-James, vice president of Technology Strategy at Silicon Valley Data Science, in a post in the Harvard Business Review.

But data isn’t just siloed in software apps used within the business; it’s also siloed on devices connected to the network.

Data Availability and Broken Analysis

Missing, hidden or siloed data can certainly foul the output of analytics, but the problems don’t stop there.

Software applications are no longer the only silos that companies must contend with. Devices connected to the network are potential data traps, too. Organizations thought they had device silos under control when they moved data to the cloud: Any device could access the data, but it wasn’t stored on any of the devices.

But along came the Internet of Things to challenge that thinking. Now, a huge array of devices gather data, and that information can end up siloed in those devices, or it can get trapped in app silos back in the cloud. After all, data in the cloud isn’t integrated until someone integrates it. Otherwise, the cloud can be full of silos, too.

Critical information updates often aren’t shared and synced with other departments and software. The resulting multiple copies of the same information make it difficult to know which version contains the latest and most accurate information.

This makes data preparation — the part of analytics that takes the most time and effort — even more difficult and time-consuming. Freeing data from silos goes a long way in shortening data prep times, primarily through automated file syncing and integration, data field standardization (dates and addresses written the same way, for example) and duplicate-file deletion.

While APIs help liberate data from some silos, it’s important to ensure all information is adequately integrated and prepped for analytics. Fortunately, there are numerous tools available to assist with those tasks, and much of the software available today comes with connectors and APIs for this purpose.

Silo-Busting Involves Security and Continuity

While it’s critical to have access to all data in order to stay competitive, that’s not the only reason organizations need information spread throughout the network. Data you can’t see is data you can’t protect. Invisibility may cloak information from IT’s eyes, but that doesn’t hide it from hackers and malware. Worse, weak points in the data you can’t see can give attackers access to the entire network. So, in terms of security, finding and protecting all data is a top priority.

But even that isn’t the end of the business imperative. An enterprise is its data, and therefore all information must be not only protected but also retrievable after a disaster. It doesn’t matter whether the data center in the basement flooded or criminals locked down the data with ransomware — the company needs to be able to retrieve its data and continue functioning without delay. Data must be visible and available wherever it resides so that it can be incorporated into the business continuity plan.

There are tools and tactics that can make data both visible and available through multiple means. One example is data sharing — this keeps data available during planned and unplanned outages. However, not all companies have the manpower or resources to do this highly detailed and important work themselves. Those companies tend to use data-availability-as-a-service to automatically map and replicate data as part of a disaster-recovery-as-a-service plan.

Data availability is of the highest importance in today’s marketplace. Whichever tools or services your company chooses, make sure you have them in place and running now.

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About The Author

Pam Baker

Freelance Writer

Pam Baker is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Georgia. Her published credits number in the thousands, including books, e-books, e-briefs, white papers, industry analysis reports and articles in leading publications, including Institutional Investor, CIO, Fierce Markets and InformationWeek, among many others. Her latest book, "Data Divination: Big Data Strategies," has been met with rave reviews, was featured in a prestigious National Press Club event, is recommended by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for business executives and is currently being used as a textbook in both business and tech schools in universities around the world. Baker is a "big-picturist," meaning she enjoys writing on topics that overlap and interact, such as technology and business. Her fans regualrly follow her work in science, technology, business and finance.

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