Back Up to the Future

My young niece has a hard time understanding why she cannot rewind Sesame Street when she watches it on public television. In her three-year-old mind, once broadcast it is as good as gone forever.  She knows there is a much better model where she has full access and interaction with her content, anytime, anywhere.  She, of course, has grown up with an iPad strapped to her feeding bottle and expects that she has full control over access, availability and consumption of content.

Her three-year-old brain probably wonders why adults still put up with the broadcast model, which has led to some explosive interactions with her supervisors.

This got me thinking about how we manage archived data inside most traditional enterprises.  I would contend that how we store and archive data is a lot like the broadcast model.  We create a ton of data that gets a brief airing before it’s permanently deleted or archived-off to a tape library that’s offsite, buried in a mountain, or in some dark corner of the enterprise. Once committed to tape, data is as good as gone and rendered useless.

And, just like my three-year-old niece, it got me wondering why enterprises still put up with this model?


So much of how we operate is convention. We create a model that is best for its time and then the model becomes norm. We come to accept things a certain way, only questioning the model when a new generation comes along.

We are entering an era where data is the treasure trove of the company.

However, data locked away in an inaccessible archive become valueless. Data has to be accessible in real time to have real value.  Millennial companies have grown up with this model and expect that they can use, share, mine and re-mine data.

Nothing is thrown out and everything is a mouse click away.

Contrast that with the zettabytes of tape archive slowly decaying in a vault: decades of media assets, seismic data, satellite images, stock market records, customer data, quality trending, medical records, genomic data…the list goes on, frozen in a time capsule.

The post-Millennial worker will demand that we shift our data strategy from “scheduled” to “on-demand” and this will require a complete re-engineering of how we store data for the long term.

Data has to be accessible from your cloud, instantly and globally.  The dollar cost of a disk-based archive is fast closing in on the cost of tape so the barrier that drove enterprises to delete or permanently entomb data is disappearing.  An active archive, built on cloud-scale architecture will allow companies to utilize data in new ways that drive efficiencies, sales strategies, quality and services, resulting in a sustained business advantage.

But you cannot analyze what you do not have, and the cost of not operating on the millennial data retention model means that a company is putting itself in a permanent financial disadvantage.

Research has shown that companies who are using data to drive business outcomes have a sustained edge in productivity rates and overall profitability, resulting in billions of dollars of bottom line advantage per year[1].

Now back to my niece. I need to excuse myself so I can explain why it will never be possible to drive a car and at the same time change the batteries on her Hello Barbie Doll. That’s the stuff of sci-fi movies.






About Barbara Murphy

avatarBarbara Murphy is the vice president of marketing for the Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit at HGST. With a mission to help organizations harness the power of data to unlock greater business potential, she is responsible for leading the global marketing efforts for the portfolio of innovative technology, platforms, converged systems and solutions to drive growth and success for HGST, and its partners and customers.