Guide to Information Management: Data Classification, Search and Management

Tracking Information Management Market Trends

By Deni Connor

Managing the glut of information is a huge undertaking made larger by the requirement to retain data and be able to classify it and recover it for e-discovery, compliance, data privacy or general business intelligence purposes.

"The biggest driver of any type of information retention and search in North America is electronic discovery [e-discovery] right now," says Brian Babineau, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group.

"There's a lot more to data than just how to keep it, prevent it from being deleted and keep it from being modified during the legal preservation process," Babineau says. "There is a need to analyze it and classify it based on taxonomies so that corporate counsels can actually take millions and millions of content information -- files, e-mail messages and databases -- and get to a reasonable corpus of information that is relative evidence."

In December 2006, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) were amended to include a company's obligation to readily disclose how electronically stored information was retained and how it could be retrieved as part of the discovery process in any legal proceeding that crossed state lines or was filed in a federal court.

The new e-discovery guidelines are forcing companies to adopt methods for retaining any information that might be part of a legally actionable claim, identify it and retrieve it readily within the discover process.

The privacy of information such as social security numbers and credit card information is also a strong focus for businesses involved in e-commerce and as importantly in protecting the confidential information of its employees and clients, Babineau says.

"The second biggest driver for information management systems is information privacy -- the ability to identify the relevant subset of information inside a corporation that contains sensitive or confidential data -- Social Security numbers or credit cards -- and then take the appropriate action whether it is to encrypt it, delete it, move it somewhere else, put it behind a firewall, whatever," says Babineau.

Enterprise Strategy Group research estimates that 47% percent of users believe that half of their organization's data could be considered confidential. But data isn't treated that way in many cases and studies are finding that customers are ill-prepared to recover and protect that information in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Whether it's the Payment Card Industry (PCI) or laws in California or other states such as the U.S. House Resolution 4127, the Data Accountability and Trust Act, which call for notification when a data breach occurs, protecting this information from unauthorized eyes is important.

"The third area fostering information management is the general business intelligence -- how corporations use information to improve their business processes," says Babineau. "Businesses can learn more about their customers or take advantage of systems like Sharepoint and content management because they can search and see that a lot of invoices are stored on file servers that should be stored in a content management system where they can be managed more effectively. This gives businesses insight to say operations would be better off if they organized it. And then upon organization, the usefulness of the information becomes much greater."

Babineau says that the last, but not least important area of data retention, discovery and retrieval, is the storage utilization and information resource angle. "If a company can establish retention policies and periods for records retention and can move the data to the most appropriate tier of infrastructure based on its class or whatever, they will realize better utilization of corporate IT assets," says Babineau.

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