Half of Business Information Resides Outside the Firewall

Symantec recently unveiled its 2012 State of Information Report, highlighting the significant impact that cloud computing and mobility are having on businesses today. The report reveals the benefits as well as the growing challenges associated with “information sprawl” as organizations increase the amount of information stored and accessed outside of the firewall. Symantec has created a Digital  Information Index to represent this information sprawl visually.

On average, 46 percent of an organization’s information is being stored outside of its own data center. Small to midsize businesses (SMBs) outpace enterprises when it comes to information sprawl, with 53 percent of the typical SMB’s information residing outside the firewall.

The surge in mobility and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon is contributing to information sprawl. In fact, smartphones and tablets store 14 percent of enterprise information and 11 percent of information within SMBs. Information accessed on mobile devices is even higher at 31 percent among enterprises and 25 percent among SMBs.

In addition, the advantages in cost and agility presented by cloud computing are leading to significant use of the cloud to store business information. Globally, 23 percent of business information is stored in the cloud, including public, private and hybrid deployments.

The information sprawl associated with cloud computing and mobility clearly has benefits, but more than a quarter of businesses surveyed by Symantec have experienced challenges as a result. More than one-third of businesses have experienced the exposure of confidential information on lost or  stolen mobile devices. Other issues arise from users being unable to find the information they need, with a large proportion of their information unorganized. And even within the firewall, storage utilization is at just 31 percent, dipping even lower outside the data center.

In light of this shift beyond the data center, organizations should make information management a priority in 2013. To minimize information sprawl and its effects on the organization, Symantec has developed the following recommendations:

  • Focus on the information, not the device or data center: With BYOD and cloud, information is no longer within the four walls of a company. Protection must focus on the  information, not the device or data center.
  • Not all information is equal: Businesses must be able to separate useless data from valuable business information and protect it accordingly.
  • Be efficient: De-duplication and archiving help companies protect more but store less to keep pace with exponential data growth.
  • Consistency is key: It is important to set consistent policies that can be enforced wherever information is located — physical, mobile, virtual or cloud environments.
  • Stay agile: Plan for future information needs by implementing a flexible infrastructure to  support continued growth.