You, Your Data and Its Data Center

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christopher Burgess


Are you like me when it comes to your data?

I like to save interesting pieces and read them later. In fact, I block time each morning to read the pieces I earmarked from the prior day and to consume the daily news from around the globe, including The Huffington Post.

I also don't give a lot of thought as to where my data sits, as long as it is available to me. I know that if I'm storing it on my hard drive, I'm also backing it up to my secondary and tertiary devices (see: Where's Your Data and Can You Actually Get to It).

But if I'm storing or backing it up to a third-party environment, be it via my online document storage service or that used by my company (such as a centralized location), I make assumptions on the service being available and accessible, as well as having sufficient storage space for my data. When any of these conditions aren't present, then I call for help.

Perhaps, like me, you have a healthy understanding of the cause and effect of your actions with respect to your home environment. It stands to reason that if you're creating video content, you're using more storage space than if you're creating written documents and your space will fill more quickly.

If the storage devices are approaching 90 percent full, you know it is time to increase storage capacity. Do you have the same visibility into your work environment? So what are the information technology (IT) professionals thinking about with respect to you and your data?

For that answer, I visited the third installment of Cisco's Connected World Report, which identifies those areas that are top of mind for the IT pros.

The number one issue is security, followed by uptime and performance -- all of which makes sense to me. I was pleased to read how global IT departments are looking to create smarter data centers with the ability to deploy and deliver applications as quickly as possible, with the elasticity to dynamically meet our (the users) demands.

The IT pros from all 13 countries represented in the report were also integrating virtualization as a key strategy to achieve the aforementioned goals, along with flexibility, reduction in costs, and ecological impact, that is, to be more green.

Indeed, the IT prognosticators predicted that 45 percent of all production environment data centers would be virtualized within three years. With our data and applications resident and available from virtualized data centers, it stands to reason why security is the number-one concern.

The report notes the following as primary keys to effective IT support: Understanding how applications and their data behave in your dynamic virtualized environment; how your data is being preserved, provisioned and presented; identification of what training and education will be necessary to allow both you and your IT/Infosec departments to keep pace with technology.

I agree: Just like we read and learn as individuals, those departments that support us must allocate a portion of their professional day to learning. The report notes that IT professionals who have the most robust cross-training and collaboration capabilities will also enjoy the greatest number of professional opportunities.

But like our personal infrastructure, the budgeted monies of the professional infrastructure must be stretched to meet identified (and the unidentified) requirements, and thus I was pleased to read how approximately 70 percent of the IT budgets within the 13 countries identified are increasing year-over-year.

This increase will be a real necessity given the ubiquitous use of video by the end user (that would be you and me) of whom 50 percent expect video to eventually be their primary mode of communication.

In sum, we are creating content -- be it data, audio or video -- and we are using an ever-increasing number of applications. We want our data to be available wherever we are, whenever we need it.

At home, whether we realize it or not, we are creating our own data centers, whether within those hard drives on our desks and in our safes, or via online service providers.

At work, we rely on others to do the heavy lifting and to create robust virtualized work environments, which make us more productive, successful and impactful. So what can you, as the individual, do to help your own business environment?

When the IT pros show up at your desk asking you to identify, forecast or project your needs, work with them. They are attempting to get ahead of your requirements. You see, in the end, it all boils down to you, your data, and the data center supporting you.

Christopher Burgess is a senior security advisor to the chief security officer of

Cisco.Cross-posted from Huffington Post

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