Digital Cleanup Day, which is coming up on March 18, is dedicated to raising awareness of digital waste and its impact on the environment, and encouraging individuals, businesses, and even government agencies to do their part to declutter their digital footprint. It also reminds us that the ramifications of digital waste are significant.
The Digital Cleanup Day site states that internet use accounts for 3.7 percent of global carbon emissions, equivalent to all air traffic in the world (a stat also found here). This digital pollution contributes to global warming and climate change.
Additionally, as the number of personal devices and data centers grows in order to store, manage, utilize, and protect the world’s exponential data growth, which unfortunately oftentimes includes digital waste, they require more energy to operate, which can put a strain on the power grid and increase energy costs.
All of this is in addition of course to the negative consequences digital clutter has on maintaining uptime and availability, ensuring the security of data and infrastructure, and optimizing resource utilization, which in turn has the potential to hurt an organization’s ability to meet business requirements and stay competitive in the industry.
Carl D’Halluin, CTO of Datadobi, and Amit Shaked, CEO and co-founder of Laminar, had this to say about why it’s important to be mindful of our digital habits and to take steps to reduce digital waste.
Carl D’Halluin, chief technology officer (CTO), Datadobi:
Digital Cleanup Day is an initiative that encourages individuals and organizations to declutter and organize their digital lives. People are encouraged to clean up their digital devices, including their computers, data storage, smartphones, and tablets.
This may involve deleting unnecessary files, organizing folders and emails, and/or uninstalling unused apps, unused cloud service subscriptions, and unused user accounts.
The day’s goal is to promote better digital hygiene habits and help individuals and organizations become more efficient, productive, and secure in their digital lives. Of course, until recently, digital cleanup for enterprises was much easier said than done.
Organizations that wish to declutter on Digital Cleanup Day and maintain a clean and well-organized digital footprint moving forward should start with the biggest nut to crack.
According to analyst estimates, 80 to 90 percent of all data is unstructured. This includes but isn’t limited to unnecessary data copies, outdated data, data belonging to employees no longer with the organization, and expired data backups and archives.
To tackle such a monumental task, users should seek a data management solution that is vendor-neutral and can handle all types of unstructured datasets, including file and object data, whether they are located on-premises or in the cloud.
It must be able to assess, organize and act upon your data. That is, it must be able to assess and analyze metrics such as data size, date created, format, type, complexity, and frequency of access, as well as other unique factors that are important to your organization.
Then, it must enable the user to organize the data into a schema that makes the most sense for that specific organization. And last critical piece of the puzzle… the solution must enable the user to act.
That is, enable the user to migrate, move, replicate, sync, or delete data with a few clicks of the button.
Now that digital cleanup can be “easier done than said” with the right solution in hand, organizations can enjoy numerous benefits including optimized storage usage, streamlined data management, reduced risk of data breaches and non-compliance, and increased productivity due to better data accessibility.
Moreover, digital cleanup can unlock the value of important data insights, leading to improved business decision-making and innovation opportunities.
Amit Shaked, CEO and co-founder, Laminar
While Digital Cleanup Day’s main mission is to help organizations reduce carbon footprint, it also serves as an important reminder for IT, data governance and data security teams to start keeping tabs on all of their sensitive data in the cloud.
Often data security teams are blind to the location, volume and types of sensitive data that lies in the cloud. Not only can unknown data lead to excess costs and digital waste, it can also introduce significant risk.
The rapid shift to the cloud and move toward data democratization has enabled organizations to quickly spin up data stores, especially in buckets or blob storage.
Unfortunately, however, many companies don’t have full visibility into where their sensitive data resides. This unknown or “shadow” data is growing, and is a top concern for 82 percent of data security professionals.
Examples of shadow data include database copies in test environments, analytics pipelines, orphaned backups, unlisted embedded databases and more.
To help reduce carbon footprint and the overall attack surface, organizations must start with complete observability of their data.
With new agile and cloud-native tools, enterprises now have the solutions they need to clean up unnecessary data, and to keep up with today’s fast-paced, cloud environment.
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