SANTA CLARA, Calif. – April 21, 2020 – Digitization can be part of the solution to climate change but storing digital data that is never used can also consume an enormous amount of energy and - as a result - produce CO2 that need never have been wasted. Veritas Technologies, a global leader in data protection and availability, estimates 6.4m tons1 of CO2 will be unnecessarily pumped into the atmosphere this year as a result of powering storage of this kind of data. In order to protect the planet from this waste, businesses need to get on top of their data management strategies, use the right tools to identify which data is valuable, and rid their data centers of ‘dark data’.
On average, 52 percent2 of all data stored by organizations worldwide is ‘dark’ as those responsible for managing it don’t have any idea about its content or value. Much has been said about the financial cost of dark data, but the environmental cost has, so far, often been overlooked. Analysts predict the amount of data the world will be storing will grow from 33ZB in 2018 to 175ZB by 20253. This implies that, unless people change habits, there will be 91ZB of dark data in five years’ time – over four times the volume we have today, with all the energy associated with powering the infrastructure in which it lives.
Phil Brace, Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President, Appliances and Software-Defined Storage, at Veritas Technologies explains:
“Around the world, individuals and companies are working to reduce their carbon footprints, but dark data doesn’t often feature on people’s action lists. However, dark data is producing more carbon dioxide than 80 different countries do individually, so it’s clear that this is an issue that everyone needs to start taking really seriously. Filtering dark data, and deleting the information that’s not needed, should become a moral imperative for businesses everywhere.
The IT industry must get ahead of the challenge, since data volumes are getting bigger every year. We’re predicting huge growth in the amount of data being created by IoT devices, and this is what industry analysts suggest will comprise the lions’ share of the 175ZB of data we’re expecting by 2025. Businesses need to understand this type of data, and the storage policies around it, so that we don’t see emissions spiral. But, we can all play a role in this individually too. Nearly every one of us stores data that we’ll never access again, simply because cloud storage is so cheap and available to us – thousands of videos and photos that we’ll never look at, or emails that we’ll never read – and there are hundreds of millions of people doing this. Businesses and consumers everywhere need to learn how to manage their data for the sake of the planet.”
Veritas has defined best practices that will enable organizations worldwide not only to delete data waste with confidence but also help reduce cost and strengthen compliance:
- Identify all data stores and gain overview: Data Mapping and Data Discovery are the first steps in understanding how information flows through an organization. Gaining visibility and insight into where data and sensitive information is being stored, who has access to it and how long it is being retained is a critical first step in pursuit of dark data and the key foundation to build from.
- Illuminate dark data: Proactive Data Management allows organizations to gain visibility into their data, storage and backup infrastructure, to take control of data associated risks and make well educated decisions which data can be deleted with confidence.
- Automate the discovery and Data Insight routines: Keeping pace with the data explosion, companies should automate the analytics, tracking, and reporting necessary to deliver organizational accountability for dark data, file use and security. Companies might need to handle petabytes of data and billions of files, so their Data Insight approach should integrate with archiving, backup and security solutions to prevent data loss and ensure policy-based data retention.
- Minimize and place controls around data: Data Minimization and purpose limitation ensure organizations reduce the amount of data being stored and establish what is retained is directly related to the purpose in which it was collected. Classification, flexible retention and compliant policy engines allow confident deletion of non-relevant information providing a cornerstone of any dark data project and companywide compliance.
- Monitor to ensure continual adherence to compliance standards: Compliance rules like GDPR introduce a duty on all organizations to report certain types of data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority, and in some cases to the individuals affected. Organizations must evaluate their ability to monitor breach activity and quickly trigger reporting procedures to ensure compliance.
For more information on data protection in the world of dark data, please explore our Enterprise Data Services Platform.
1Numbers calculated by mapping industry data on power consumption from data storage, industry data on emissions from data centers and Veritas Databerg Research
2Veritas Databerg Research
3The Digitization of the World, From Edge to Core, IDC, November 2018
Veritas Technologies is a global leader in data protection and availability. Over 50,000 enterprises—including 99 of the Fortune 100—rely on us to abstract IT complexity and simplify data management. The Veritas Enterprise Data Services Platform automates the protection and orchestrates the recovery of data everywhere it lives, ensures 24/7 availability of business-critical applications, and provides enterprises with the insights they need to comply with evolving data regulations. With a reputation for reliability at scale and a deployment model to fit any need, Veritas supports more than 500 data sources and over 150 storage targets, including 60 clouds. Learn more at www.veritas.com. Follow us on Twitter at @veritastechllc.
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