With storage costs plummeting and as mobile device usage increases, data is growing exponentially worldwide. Exponential growth in the use of multiple devices by employees in enterprises has become a norm. Furthermore, the changing paradigm of working away from the office has led to individuals relying on various cloud services to access their work documents.
The transition to purely cloud-based storage services from in-house storage solutions has also increased Data Sprawl. Cloud storage is often cheaper for businesses as it offers a scalable solution that is stored off-site. However, this development has increased Data Sprawl if there are no tabs kept on data growth.
A typical employee working from home may be using his mobile device to access file-sharing services, email systems, and his company’s ERP or CRM Software. As a result, companies are facing data sprawl. To avoid working in chaotic data environments, organizations need to efficiently manage data sprawl.
Let us look at what exactly is data sprawl and how your organization can overcome it.
What is data sprawl?
Data sprawl is the humongous amount of data that enterprises produce globally daily. It happens as a direct result of the data produced due to the growth in various operating systems, mobile and enterprise applications, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, and data warehouses worldwide.
Data sprawl is the proliferation of data into endpoints, servers, applications, BYODs, operating systems, network environments, and even other geo servers, which can be a challenge to monitor and control.
What are the problems that enterprises face due to data sprawl?
Making sense of data stored at multiple locations
In an enterprise, similar data may be stored at different servers or devices. As a result, it is not an easy task to perform meaningful analysis of data stored in different locations and formats. How does your organization make sense of the data if it is stored in such a way?
When it comes to devices that have access to company data, security becomes a major concern. Cyber attacks are on the rise, but a lesser-known and equally dangerous threat is the malicious insider; data sprawl puts companies at a higher risk of falling victim to attacks like data theft or data compromise carried out by employees. Worse yet, many organizations fail to combat these attacks simply because they aren’t aware of them.
Data sprawl can create serious security concerns for your organization. With BYOD policies in place, data ends up going outside your secure network. Data stored in cloud file storage repositories (such as OneDrive and Google Drive) may be vulnerable to hacking attempts.
Further, with regulations like the GDPR in full swing, mishandling customer and sales data can result in hefty fines for breaching compliance. Your business may even end up losing customers in the process.
IoT adoption causing data analysis requirements to increase exponentially over time
An estimate by Business Insider predicts that there will be more than 40 billion IoT devices across the globe by 2027. IoT devices today can address real-life problems, and as a result, almost all enterprises have an edge strategy in mind.
Data is the lifeblood of edge computing strategy. Edge devices gather, store, and analyze information about an individual and their environment. More data is in devices in disparate formats, and all this data needs to be analyzed. Enterprises have to first reconcile the data into a single format and then analyze it to make sense of the disparate data. In fact, nowadays, companies are thinking more and more about prioritizing edge IoT for their analytics.
How can you overcome Data Sprawl in your Organization?
1. Opt for On-Premise file-sharing solutions
Rather than having employees adopt the practice of storing files in public-facing cloud solutions such as Dropbox or Google Drive, enterprises should consider going for a private file-sharing solution accessible to employees over the internet. Gladinet is a company that offers Triofox, an on-premise file sharing solution for enterprises. Some of the advantages of using such a solution are:
- Private file sharing
- Allowing the enterprise to self-host the solution
- Integration with your existing Active Directory
- Enabling remote and mobile access to file server shares directly over HTTPS
Some benefits of file sharing in such a scenario are:
- Data Privacy is guaranteed
- Collaboration is simplified
- File servers can be accessed using mobile devices
- Management of users, access control, and storage are simplified
- Permissions can be granularly managed centrally
- Productivity rises for employees across the board
2. Set enterprise-wide policies for data security
An enterprise-facing data sprawl and the security risks that may arise because of the data sprawl should create policies that outline how employees should access and handle data. An example is a policy that restricts users from accessing the company infrastructure through Wi-Fi networks that are publicly accessible and inherently insecure. Another example is a policy that forces users to change their passwords periodically. Additionally, enforcing multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO) along with properly training employees on data risks and related safety measures will go a long way in preventing data loss.
3. Integrate software applications used across the enterprise
Another way of cutting down on data sprawl is to integrate software applications across the organization. Doing so helps reduce the number of information silos created by different departments or branches of a large enterprise that use various software applications. Not only will doing such an integration cut down on data sprawl, but it will also give stakeholders full visibility into company operations. Such an approach will allow the management to make smarter decisions by drawing upon employees’ collective intelligence at different organizational levels.