HDS CTO Hu Yoshida’s justification for active archiving

Last week we hosted a groupof very high-level CIOs and CTOs to discuss their enterprise storagestrategies. We think it's an important topic despite the fact thatstorage can be a tough sell, even among the senior technologyexecutives. Just ask HuYoshida.

The CTO of Hitachi, which was sponsoring thisevent, took a few moments with me to discuss the challenge of gettingstorage on the senior management radar.

“People considerstorage as infrastructure. It doesn’t get the visibility of, say,servers,” he said. On the other hand, Yoshida claimed the storage shareof the budget is going up. “The thing about storage is it’s stable. Inother words, you accumulate it, and it just grows and grows and grows.Whereas servers, if one model’s done the application can be started upon a new server.”

We also know that the nature of storage ischanging. Whereas historically companies focused on retaining formalrecords and so on, some of the biggest growth is in unstructured datasuch as e-mail, instant messages and other kinds of documents. Some ofthese pieces of data weren’t designed to be kept forever, but thenature of e-discovery – where a court order could require an IT managerto produce all office e-mails from a six-month period – means you haveto make a lot more room in your archives.

IT managers may findit hard to make the business case sometimes, but Yoshida gave me one ofthe best examples I’ve ever heard of a real-life storage scenariohappening right before our eyes. “The National Archives in the U.S. –where all the presidents store their records every year – thosearchives are exploding,” he said.

When president Bill Clintonleft office, for instance, he left behind about 3TB of data for theNational Archives. That’s a fair bit of stuff, but it was nothingcompared to that left behind by George W. Bush. When he said goodbye tothe White House, his administration transferred 146TB, according toYoshida.

“Now president Bush never used a laptop, forsecurity reasons,” Yoshida pointed out. “President Obama has a secureBlackBerry, his staff have several BlackBerry devices on differentnetworks, he’s using the Web, he’s on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter . . .we estimate in that his first four or five months he’s generated morethan 400 or 500TBs.”

By the end of his term, Yoshida said the result could be 10s of petabytes, not terabytes.

Nowthink of the situation in the average corporation. Even in Canada,there are many CEOs who were as technology-averse as Bush, but overtime they’ll be replaced by Internet-savvy successors who will expectto generate and consume a lot more information electronically. Puttingaside the fact that there’s more work-related stuff going on in privateconsumer applications like Gmail than there should be, thejustification for further investments in storage IT should be ano-brainer.

“People tend to point to the backups and say thetapes are the archives, but those are very difficult to search,”Yoshida said. “We need to take some of that bloat out of the productionsystems.”

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