Your Dark Data Is Killing the Planet

Photo credit: iStockphoto/AlxeyPnferov

The way you manage data can impact earth, says a recent survey by Veritas Technologies.

According to the survey, an estimated 5.8 million tonnes of COare released — unnecessarily — into the atmosphere because of dark data.  

Dark data is data acquired or stored that is not used to derive insights or decision making. The report noted that 52% of all data stored by companies globally is “dark.”

Analysts predict that the amount of data stored around the world will grow from 33ZB in 2018 to 175ZB by 2025. This means we will be managing 91ZB of dark data in five years’ time — over four times the volume we have today.

While many companies see the financial cost of dark data, the environmental cost is overlooked. Veritas is looking to bring the truth to light. 

“Around the world, individuals and companies are working to reduce their carbon footprints, but dark data doesn’t often feature on people’s action lists,” says Ravi Rajendran, vice president and managing director for Asia South Region at Veritas Technologies.  “However, dark data is producing more carbon dioxide than 80 different countries do individually, so it’s clear that this is an issue that everyone needs to start taking really seriously.

According to a Cushman & Wakefield reportSoutheast Asia will be the fastest-growing region for co-location data centers over the next five years, with an expected compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 percent from 2019 to 2024.

“Singapore was also ranked the third most robust data center market in the world. Imagine the carbon footprint that would be generated by Southeast Asia region alone,” Rajendran says.

He urged the IT industry to tackle the challenge head on. “Businesses need to understand this data, and the storage policies around it, so we don’t see emissions spiral,” Rajendran adds.

Individuals have their part to play. “Nearly every one of us stores data that we’ll never access again, simply because cloud storage is so cheap and available to us — thousands of videos and photos that we’ll never look at, or emails that we’ll never read — and there are hundreds of millions of people doing this.  Businesses and consumers everywhere need to learn how to manage their data for the sake of the planet,” he explains.

Rajendran highlighted five best practices to reduce dark data waste:   

  • Identify all data stores and gain overview: Gaining visibility through data mapping and data discovery is a critical first step.
  • Illuminate dark data: Proactive data management can help companies to understand the risks associated to data and decide which data can be deleted.
  • Automate the discovery and data insight routines: Automating analytics, tracking, and reporting for determining organizational accountability for dark data, file use and security can help companies facing increasing data volumes.
  • Minimize and place controls around data: Better data classification, flexible retention and compliant policy engines can allow confident deletion of non-relevant information.
  • Monitor to ensure continual adherence to compliance standards: Evaluate the organization’s ability to monitor breach activity and trigger reporting procedures to ensure compliance.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/AlxeyPnferov