5 Things I Found in My Garage that Suggest You Need a Data Center Intervention

When my car could no longer comfortably fit in the garage, I figured it was time to bite the bullet and see exactly what was forcing me to upgrade my garage capacity.

After I pulled everything from the garage out onto my driveway, I stood looking at my collection stuff, I realized I amassed exactly what I warn data center admins about keeping in their data center, stuff of value mixed in with redundant, outdated and trivial junk.

Sensitive documents. First there was a large box sitting out in the open. I remember rummaging through it last February. It has tax documents, pay stubs, doctor receipts, credit card bills and similar financial statements. Sure, it contains tons of my PII, but is it really at risk in my garage?

Of course it is. Most of this could be shredded and I’d never miss my June 2011 American Express bill. The documents I need – W2s, tax returns – easily fit into one folder that can get archived safely into the safety deposit box that I pay the bank for anyway. By organizing this, I can reclaim about six square feet of space and eliminate the risk of my nosey house sitter wandering into my garage and seeing the box labeled “Financial and Tax Records”.

Same thing for the data center, your networks and backup data is likely crawling with PII and PHI issues. Depending on age, industry, company policies; much of that should be remediated. The rest needs to go into a secure archive or encrypted.

Redundant, Outdated, Trivial Data. Then there was a four-shelf rack of stuff that I thought I needed, can’t use right now, but may use again one day: crock pots (two of them), tools, a snow blower, three shovels, old propane tanks and a few boxes of old household stuff.

I could use it. I likely won’t. I definitely don’t need all of it. Toss out the snow blower that doesn’t quite work, retire the boxes of old lamps, radios and other outdated items and relocate the three snow shovels out to the storage shed getting it out of the way and I start making progress. The crockpot came in handy last year and you can never have too many tools, right? Condensed to two shelves.

ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial data) isn’t active data. It’s a mix of junk, outdated files and some things that may need to be kept just in case. If it hasn’t been accessed in the last two or three years, it’s probably safe to move it offline and reclaim some server capacity. (I’m betting on your user share server.)

Active Data. There are some freshly placed bags from the local home improvement store. I have grass seed, some mulch, a few gallons of pool shock and some bath tub sealant. While the best place for it probably isn’t along the passenger side of my car, I need these products today and over the next few weeks.

Active data needs to be managed in place, so it is not lost and I can take advantage of it. Cleaning up all the junk around it makes it easier and allows me to leverage what has value.

Duplicate Data. A few garbage bags and shelves filled with bulk warehouse items: cases of water, toilet paper, canned vegetables, bags of charcoal and laundry detergent.

To me this is value, but when you have 96 of something that isn’t bottled water, it’s a waste of storage budget. Remediate these copies. I’ve seen organizations reclaim 25% of their network capacity just by getting rid of duplicates.

Aged and Former Employee Data. Behind the fourth case of water is a mystery box I haven’t seen in a while. It’s old training and marketing material from a former employment. It was outdated long before I left and is next to some old dry cleaning I haven’t worn in seven years… and will probably never wear again. Next to this are a dozen boxes from my kids room, old books and stuff they will never use. They moved out 5 years ago and have no plan to reclaim this stuff, nor does anyone know it exists.

It happens at data centers too. Employees move around within the organization. Others move on to different companies. Sometimes the data is just outdated and abandoned.

Aged and former employee data can make up to 50% of an organization’s network data. Find out how much of your data either hasn’t been accessed in three years or over two years and is owned by inactive or former employees. My aged and former employee stuff is going in the garbage. Yours may be better off remediated or at least moved offline.

Cleaning up. In one afternoon I was able to clear about over half the contents of my garage. While cleaning up the data center might take a little longer, it is just as simple.

Data profiling technology helps categorize and define user data based on metadata and individual file content so you can make decisions on it. Tier to the cloud. Archive. Remediate. Manage in place. Move offline.

I can even help you get started. Try Catalyst Express, it’s a free download from Index Engines that enables you to understand and manage up to 5TBs of LAN data. Start on a user share server or one used by the sales/services department. Those tend to be hot spots for ROT, ex-employee data and PII.

From there we can help get the rest of your LAN, email and legacy data in order.

As for your garage, you’re on your own.