[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

Symantec  launched its first Digital Information Index, highlighting the impact that cloud computing and mobility are having on businesses. The 2012 State of Information Report reveals the benefits but also growing challenges of “information sprawl” as organizations increase the level of information stored and accessed outside of the firewall.

“Businesses are undergoing a transformation unlike anything we’ve seen before. With mobile devices and cloud giving employees access to information from nearly anywhere, we’re also seeing more sensitive information living beyond the traditional IT boundaries,” said Francis deSouza, group president, Enterprise Products and Services, Symantec.

Information Sprawl

Globally, almost half (46 percent) of an organisation’s information is being stored outside of its own data center. At 53 percent, small and medium businesses (SMBs) outpace enterprises when it comes to information residing outside the firewall, when taking into account mobile devices and laptops. In some countries this number rises to more than half, such as India (83 percent), China (60 percent) and Singapore (60 percent).

Symantec has created a Digital Information Index to represent this information sprawl visually and provide a barometer of where information sits today in different parts of the world. The Index highlights markets experiencing high information sprawl – such as India and China where other markets are dealing with less information sprawl, such as Japan and France.

Modern technologies and information sprawl clearly has benefits, but over a quarter of businesses surveyed have experienced challenges as a result. More than one-third of businesses had experienced the exposure of confidential information as a result of lost or stolen mobile devices. Other issues arise from being unable to find what they need, with a large proportion of their information being unorganized or difficult to find. And even within the firewall, their storage utilization is at just 31 percent, dipping even lower outside the data center.

The Impact of Mobility and the Cloud

The surge in mobility is contributing to information sprawl. In fact, smartphones and tablets store 14 percent of business information globally. For enterprises, this is 14 percent, compared to 11 percent for SMBs. This number is much higher in countries including India (62 percent), Australia and New Zealand (46 percent) and Italy (38 percent). Information accessed on mobile devices is even higher at 28 percent globally. Here again we see enterprises leading with 31 percent, compared to 25 percent for SMBs. Once again India is higher than average, with 43 percent of its information being accessed on smartphones and tablets, joined by Brazil (42 percent), Singapore (39) percent and Malaysia (38 percent.)

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, almost a quarter (23 percent) of business information is stored in the cloud, between public, private and hybrid deployments. This number is particularly high in Indonesia (45 percent), China (39 percent), Vietnam (34 percent) and Japan (32 percent).

Protecting Information in Today’s Environment

In light of this shift beyond the data center, making information management a priority is more important than ever. 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: Business must be able to separate useless data from valuable business information and protect it accordingly.
  • Be efficient: Deduplication 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 for information that can be enforced wherever it’s located… physical, mobile, virtual and cloud environments.
  • Stay agile: Plan for your future information needs by implementing a flexible infrastructure to support continued growth.

[Graphics courtesy: Symantec]