How to manage your infrastructure sprawl to protect your data

Does your business make up one of the estimated 85% of UK businesses that collect personal data from employees, customers or others? 

If so, you may find that this high volume of data can be strewn across a complex IT landscape once collected, processed, and stored. It may become hard to track or monitor from on-premises servers, cloud, applications, remote applications, and personal devices.  

As businesses gather more critical data, this issue develops, with the resulting infrastructure becoming unmanageable, under-utilised, and less efficient. This leads to vulnerability and data exposure to ever-increasing threats, cyber-attacks, human error, or natural disasters. 

With a mid-2020 IDC study finding that 80% of surveyed IT leaders identified data sprawl as one of the most critical problems facing their organisations, how can your organisation manage its infrastructure and, in so doing, safeguard vital data? 

  1. Complete an infrastructure audit and assessment 

Do you know where across your IT infrastructure your data is located, what each system processes and who has access to it? If not, there could be serious implications for your business in the short and long term.  

As well as hard-hitting regulatory and security consequences, if your employees struggle to locate specific information quickly and accurately or spend time looking for data that turns out to be Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial (ROT), there can be a detrimental effect on productivity and business resources. 

You need to know what hardware you have, what data it holds, and who has responsibility for it. The most effective way to achieve this is by auditing and assessing your IT infrastructure. You identify all assets, understand the associated costs, and determine governance and ownership. 

This exercise will also ensure that, depending on what industry you are in and what sensitive data you hold, you have peace of mind that you are doing all you need to do about corporate governance and risk management. 

  1. Consolidate your hardware 

Have you given thought to how efficient your servers and other hardware are? Are you using servers for single as opposed to multiple workloads? 

Multiple and underused servers can waste financial resources, energy, and space and add to the unmanageable infrastructure sprawl within your organisation. The more physical servers you have, the harder it is to keep track of where everything is. 

Look to reduce the number of physical servers you use or consider virtual or off-site cloud-based ones. The latter will transfer energy costs and storage usage out of your workspace, allowing multiple workloads to occur simultaneously on one piece of equipment. 

Bear in mind your own compliance and security issues when it comes to consolidation. For example, if a server is affected and you have many workloads on it, this could mean increased downtime and reduced productivity. 

  1. Identify and classify your data 

Regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and data governance policies mean you need to know what sensitive data you have and where it is to set access and security controls and responsibilities. This is important to have as your data grows. 

Effectively identifying and classifying data by sensitivity and risk, i.e., is it public, business-critical, or for day-to-day internal operations, helps to make it easy for stakeholders to prioritise and protect the data your business holds.  

It is also valuable in helping to remove redundant or historic information, bearing in mind compliance, privacy, or legislative procedures. 

From this, establish clear data governance policies to track and manage data and define ownership and accountability consistently. Updating this as more data is gathered will ensure greater accuracy, availability and confidentiality as your business grows, regulations change, and the IT environment evolves.  

  1. Backup and protect data 

Unstructured IT infrastructure and resultant data sprawl can lead to a disorganised data management approach with various tools implemented across both on and off-site providers.  

This disparity can, in turn, lead to increased costs, inefficiencies, and security risks due to confusion around how, where and when backup takes place.  

It is, therefore, vital to centralise your infrastructure and data to create an effective, scalable, and manageable backup and recovery plan.  

Using a Backup as a Service Solution (BaaS) like that offered by Brightsolid provides centralised data storage, end-to-end security protection, and management.  

Through an easy-to-use console you have an efficient and robust backup and recovery with complete visibility of all workloads, access control and 100% compliance as you know where your data is. It also enables you to grow or reduce your storage as you need it, without investment in new hardware. 

Tackle your infrastructure sprawl and speak to one of our experts today. Together we can protect your valuable data, manage it effectively and achieve the clarity you need for success.