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IDC estimates that the volume of unstructured data worldwide now grows annually by 61%. Cloud storage pricing is suddenly on the rise, with some providers hiking prices by as much a 50%. IBM now puts the average cost of a data breach at $4.35M, 12% higher than just two years ago.

File data accumulates. It accumulates cost and risk.

Organizations are responding. Compelled by financiers, legislative bodies, and cyber-criminals, they are beginning to tackle the challenges that file data accumulation presents – evolving file services, data handling procedures, organizational structure and culture.

The benchmark approach these organizations are taking can be summed up as follows:

  1. Visualize file service use
  2. Compare usage to agreed standards
  3. Affect change when deviations are found.

The agreed first step then, is to visualize file service use.

What is file service visualization?

A factual picture of file service use is the foundation of any action to improve that use. It drives prioritization, resource allocation, and enables communication both up and down-stream.

Effects are many: high-level metrics to support strategic discussions on cloud-first programs, data-decommissioning teams using files lists to mitigate risk, or the infrastructure engineering team wanting to stay on top of data growth and act pro-actively.

Building this picture involves monitoring file service configuration and content and synthesizing results into metrics, summaries, and detailed lists. Initially, the common questions are targeted: who and what are driving growth, what files can we safely remove, where do we have potentially sensitive data, and who has access.

How does Northern deliver file service visualization?

File systems commonly reach billions of files, consist of cloud and on-premise platforms, have organically developed structures, and are used by a user population focused on getting the most out of the service as quickly and easily as possible. The challenges are many, and they are always the same – everyday business to Northern, which has allowed us to develop our software and processes to accommodate these obstacles.

Northern’s software collects data about the target data repositories (shares, sites, channels, mailboxes, etc.) and stores aggregated data to a database. Visualization is done in browser-based default dashboards, which are tuned and expanded as specific questions and opportunities are identified. Customers will normally have to wait two weeks from infrastructure stand-up to the first completed analyses, and be required to commit very few hours of work during this time.

Realizing the benefits visualization offers

Visualizing file service use opens the door to many actions, actions that enhance infrastructure planning, information security, data migration, compliance, Records management, and more.

But organizations should not aim to go too far, too fast.

The first benefit that should be realized from visualization is the ability to plan. The insights that are now available should be captured; the opportunities documented and prioritized. Northern has an equal amount of experience here too.

At its heart, Northern is a software company, but we understand the position our customers are in – our customers need to achieve outcomes. The outcomes Northern offers, through its software, experience, and cooperative approach, are a clear picture of how the file service is being used (no matter how large, dynamic, organic) and a clear picture of what a customer should do about it.

Find out what it would take to visualize your organization’s file service use and to make a lasting impact on the costs and risks that service represents:

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