Data is rarely kept on-site these days. No more banging your elbows into 3-storey office furniture!
Data is, and has always been, one of the most important assets owned by any business. 20 years ago, the majority of data was stored physically (in paper form – remember that?!) somewhere in a backroom office – possibly (but not commonly) under lock and key – and I remember my own parents’ business relying on the regular purchase of shiny new filing cabinets in order to support the growth of their own success. In our business, we own exactly one half of a full size filing cabinet. And the cabinet itself is only half full. In fact, these days it becomes quite tricky to think of documents that should be printed and stored on site in the traditional way.
These days, cloud is king. The servers with solid state hard drives blinking away in data-centres around the world are today’s modern filing cabinets. Significantly smaller in size, we’re now able to store millions more documents and datasets. Replicated again and again to provide redundancy in the case of an event, today’s cloud hosts such as Microsoft and Amazon have the infrastructure needed to reduce incidents leading to data loss and to provide the tools to software development teams to build scalable applications to better serve the end user.
And there’s no more searching around the bottoms of drawers looking for that elusive key which fits the only filing cabinet that happens to be locked. Crowbars on standby. In the modern age, keys are in the form of passwords and – more importantly – through data encryption which prevents the interception of commercially sensitive information as it travels from one server to the next, or whilst it sits ‘at-rest’ on the database server. With associated databases and intelligent software, every one of the electronic filing cabinets of data is immediately accessible. Analysis of data becomes a breeze and there’s no more trips to the basement to search through moth-eaten paperwork.
From a philosophical perspective, I miss the traditional filing cabinet. But I won’t be buying another one any time soon!