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Time to re-think information retention plans

Channel partners can help customers with proper policies and plans around information management

After releasing results from its 2010 Information Management Health Check Survey this month, Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) is encouraging its channel partners to help Canadian businesses shape up their information retention plans and policies.

The survey was conducted over the phone by Applied Research over the month of June and included responses from 1,680 enterprises (with 500 employees or more) from 25 countries, including Canada, which had 100 participants.

Peter Elliman, senior product manager, product marketing at Symantec, said after reviewing the survey results, the company found there’s a “gap between information management goals and practices” in most businesses.

“Eighty-seven per cent of respondents said they believe in the value of having a formal information retention plan, however, only 46 per cent actually have one,” he said.

This is problematic because in many cases, a lot of businesses are making mistakes when it comes to information management, which ultimately can lead to serious and costly consequences, he Elliman explained.

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when it comes to managing their information is with over-retention of data. According to the survey respondents, 74 per cent of backups are either on infinite retention or are on legal hold, he added. This is a “no no” because Ellison says with data continuing to grow at significant speeds within business environments, it becomes difficult to search through and work with essential information.

Another major mistake is that 47 per cent of companies said they perform legal holds using backup.

“Backup wasn’t designed for performing legal holds because it’s for disaster recovery purposes,” he explained. “The reason you do backups is for legal purposes and to protect yourself from things like human error, hardware issues or a natural disaster. Instead, companies should use a formal archiving product which allows them to perform better searches in the event of an impending legal case.”

Partners should also encourage customers to implement deduplication technology if they haven’t yet already to reduce the overall amount of information within organizations and to also enable faster backups and recovery.

Elliman says some key questions that partners should be asking their customers include “Do you have a formal information retention plan in place? Is this plan understood at all levels within the organization? And “How often are you able to delete information confidently and regularly?”

A sure sign that signals an opportunity in this space is if the customer finds it uncomfortable to delete information.

“If it’s uncomfortable to delete information, than that business doesn’t have a proper information retention plan in place,” Elliman said.

Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.