[ENG] What makes your data valuable? Discover here how gravity applies also to your data !
Understanding data value represents one small step for yourself and one giant leap for your company.
Data is among the most valuable assets of every company: we know it since a long time. What maybe some of us still ignore is how to make our data more valuable: this goal can be reached performing the 4 steps of Data Protection with due care. They are: discovery, classify, manage, protect. During these 4 passages data changes its connotations moving from dark data to safe data.
Dark Data? Could someone please turn on the light? Yes, hopefully the following rows can provide some help:
DARK DATA: all unknown data of an organization (for example log files dispersed somewhere in your drives)
GRAY DATA: identified data that requires decisions to be made on its type, function, and so on (for example data stored from your IoT devices)
DATA: data properly classified and labelled for the individual/company, the company is eventually able to generate revenues out of its data (for example the data in your filesystem ordered in folders)
SAFE DATA: The company is aware of the value of its data and has properly introduced the right safeguards to protect it (for example the data in your filesystem after a backup strategy has been implemented)

Some years ago the discovery of data could be completed by physical observation. Nowadays things are quite different: knowing that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Cloud/Virtualization and shadow IT are becoming day by day more disruptive in companies, one can easily understand that physical observation (of servers, clients, switches and whatever device) has to be considered only as as a preliminary step in Data Discovery.

Discovery has to be made with an holistic approach answering the canonical questions:
  • What is the data: For data protection to be effective, you need to not only understand what you’re protecting and what you are not protecting
  • Where is the Data: Cloud, Servers, Endpoints, IoT devices: you have to be perfectly aware of where your data is
  • Who uses the Data: usually the more people access data, the more valuable data is
  • When is the Data used: usually data usage belongs to primary production activities while data protection belongs to secondary production activities.
  • How is the Data used
  • How is the data volume changing in time

To understand the importance of this last point Dave Mc Crovy in 2010 introduced the concept of “Data Gravity” which can be explained as follows.
Working with (larger) datasets means the need to collect, store and manage the data and move it around to different applications. The data then accumulates (builds mass), attracts services and applications which need to be close to the data to improve the latency and throughput, and leverage high bandwidth. As more data collects and grows at a specific location / a central data store (on-premises or co-located), the process accelerates, to the point where it’s difficult or impossible to move data and applications anywhere else. This affects workflows, creates higher costs, and results in lower system performance, and management overheads.
- Mc Crovy: "Data Gravity"
When planning whatever activity on your data (for example, simply reorganizing your folders or choosing a backup system) keep in mind the trivial framework described above: it might help.