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Howard Anderson
Howard Anderson
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Global CIO: Your Data Is Like Week-Old Flounder

Our intrepid leader, Stu Laura, takes on those who would preserve every last shred of company information

Our old buddy Stu Laura, CIO extraordinaire, was in a fit, as per usual.

"Storage is sucking the lifeblood out of my budget! I'm not the chief information officer – I'm the chief packrat officer, and I don't like it one little bit," he said.

I suggested he was overstating the case.

"No, I am not. It's robbing my budget of flexibility," Laura continued. "It's a tapeworm that every year invades our body and which eats a little more. It's a cancer and it's unstoppable." Surely, he had the means to put an end to flagrant over-storage.

"Oh, I know all the tricks," he said. "I can invest in deduplication. I can buy into the compression schemes. I can institute some tiering. But they are Band-Aids. They are stopgap. Look, I know that we have to keep some records because of government requirements, but that's not what I'm talking about. I am talking about the lines of business that don't want to throw ANYTHING away. I think we have data that goes back to the Romans. We have CAD files for products we haven't made in a decade and user manuals for products that only the Smithsonian has.

"Some idiot has convinced management that our data is a rare asset that must be preserved. I am convinced that two thirds of our data is a liability, like a week-old flounder. But I have a plan!"

I was afraid of that, but like a lemming drawn to the cliff, I couldn't help myself: "OK, what's your plan?"

"I want to charge back the lines of business for storage," Laura said. "Let's face it: I'm not smart enough to know what should be kept and what should be disposed of. Those Idiots in marketing, a needless redundancy, believe that we need every bit of customer data because some day they might want to check into a database to see who bought Model 105B and Model 107A and determine if 5% of those customers might, some day in the future, want to buy a maintenance product attached to some neural computer engine.

"Let's face it, 95% of marketing is just making things up on the fly. Since they are clueless, let them pay for their cluelessness. If I can figure out the metrics, then they can decide if that really is data that they need, if it's data they will want in real time, or if we can bury it at Iron Mountain forever. Database marketing is just a buzz term for 'keep everything -- who knows, someday, somebody will find a use for all of this.'"

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