Finding Order in Chaos: Making Sense of Unstructured Data

Managing unstructured data is key to business growth.

Every organization today is data-rich. Today, it is widely acknowledged that no organization can effectively service their customers without investing in some form of data-driven technology and analytics. As companies double down on digital transformation, more capacity is needed to process a wider variety of applications from files and objects to streams, forcing them to prioritize a well-designed digital infrastructure investment.

Rapid advancements in computing power and 5G connectivity (check out my take on the future of 5G here) are top-of-mind scenarios that create vast quantities of data and increase enterprise workloads across Edge, Core and Cloud. By 2025, there will be 175 zettabytes of data in the global datasphere, of which 80% will be unstructured. However, Deloitte reported that only 18% of organizations could take advantage of such data, underscoring a huge opportunity for businesses to derive valuable insights and make data-driven decisions.

In trying to solve the complexity of unstructured data challenges, IT leaders need to consider three objectives, the first of which is how to store and secure their data from edge to core to cloud. Secondly, they need to make sense of the unstructured data to manage, discover and analyze data. Lastly and most importantly, it is imperative that they think about how to gain business value by transforming the data into real insights to drive growth across the organization.

At Dell Technologies, we recommend three broad pivots to consider as organizations drive innovation with their unstructured data.

Building a Modernized and Global Data First Foundation

Customers have cited many legacy challenges including data silos with multi-vendor solutions, scaling up of IT infrastructure and security.

A year ago, NBC Olympics selected Dell Technologies Storage Systems for the Tokyo Olympics Games. NBC Olympics is using the Dell PowerScale family of storage systems to digitally store video content captured at the Tokyo Olympics for sharing with viewers in the United States. PowerScale, powered by Dell OneFS software to easily unify storage clusters on a single intelligent file system, will store and manage petabytes of data. This was simplicity at scale deployed with multi-protocol support at the edge, core or cloud.

Sentara Healthcare is another great example of building a modern IT infrastructure.  Sentara partnered with Dell Technologies to modernize their legacy IT infrastructure and implemented an innovative hybrid multi-cloud strategy. In addition to PowerMax, Sentara relies on Dell Technologies for PowerEdge servers, PowerScale and Isilon network-attached storage, PowerProtect DD Virtual Edition data protection, and VMware vSphere virtualization. Key business results include 10 times faster data access due to lower latency and less than 1 millisecond response times on application data.

Managing with Integrated Data Intelligence Tools

IT leaders must manage data through its lifecycle from creation, storage, portability, security from cyberattacks to automated deletion. This is key to also ensuring that unstructured data can be acted upon and that means making informed decisions, forecasting future needs and ensuring data can be moved to the optimal storage platform on demand.

Artificial intelligence is a key enabler for that. For example, CloudIQ, our cloud-based AIOps application, supports all major technology categories in the Dell infrastructure portfolio (servers, storage, data protection, storage area and local area networking, converged and hyperconverged infrastructure) as well as its data storage as-a-Service offering.

According to a CloudIQ user survey that we conducted, CloudIQ enables IT teams to resolve issues 2x-10x faster than before. Providing health notifications and recommendations to address issues is a major AIOPs capability. A good example of that in action is at Plex Systems, the prominent provider of cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, where CloudIQ enables 3x faster time to resolution and productivity gains of 16 hours per week.

Maximizing Business Value

Unstructured data requires organizations to navigate data to extract business value from it. To leverage insights from data it is imperative for organizations to understand data volume, velocity, variety, applications that are certified and supported. Eventually to evaluate and assess if they have the talent with the required skills to identify and deploy the right technological solution to derive maximum benefit. Every organization has its unique requirements on what their strategic outcomes needs to look like, and what new insights can be gained.

During the peak of COVID-19, when governments worldwide issued stay-at-home orders, many companies scrambled to transition staff to remote environments. Like a Photon Creative (LAPC) in Australia — an award-winning, internationally acclaimed digital animation studio – was able to transition to remote work easily and increase productivity by 120%. With PowerScale, LAPC was able to choose the right storage tiers and protocols and get 20 times the read/write performance.

The volume of unstructured data is doubling each year. Storage and management costs are increasing rapidly as well. It is critical to unlock the vast amount of insight and intelligence that resides in the data of its customers, partners and internal operations. Organizations that are transforming with the vision to adopt modern IT infrastructure to manage, store data effectively will be poised to see accelerated growth in the future.

Peter Marrs

About the Author: Peter Marrs

Peter is a veteran of Dell, having joined the company since 2000. He has held various senior management positions globally, including Senior Vice President of North America Compute & Networking Sales, Vice President of APJ Enterprise Solutions, Vice President of APJ End User Computing, President & General Manager of Dell Korea, Executive Director of APJ Marketing, General Manager of APJ Solutions Sales, Executive Director of Marketing for China and Executive Director of Solutions Sales for ASEAN. Peter started his Dell career in the Enterprise Product Development. A high-energy, results-driven entrepreneurial and creative executive with over 30 years of experience in General Management, Sales Leadership, Marketing, Strategy, Product Management and Development, Global Market Expansion and Operations. Peter has a proven track record in delivering outstanding results, a thought leader who operationalizes breakthrough ideas and drives them to success through focused execution and operational excellence. Prior to joining Dell, Peter worked with Xerox for approximately 12 years in various sales and marketing roles. Peter earned his Master of Business Administration from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Science in Business from Lemoyne College. In his spare time, Peter enjoys traveling, reading literature and interacting with people from diverse backgrounds, learning cultural differences.