How Unstructured Data Creates Opportunities for MSPs
When we think about data, most of us tend to imagine neatly organized databases with rows and columns containing uniformly formatted fields of information. However, this sort of structured data is not the only kind of data out there. In fact, most data in the world is unstructured. This includes files like PDF documents and email messages, as well as images and videos. Unstructured data can contain incredibly valuable information for those organizations capable of unlocking their secrets. However, not every business is up to the task of managing vast and rapidly growing troves of unstructured data. This creates a great opportunity for Managed Services Providers (MSPs) who can help clients organize unstructured data and discover useful business insights in the process. Success with unstructured data, however, requires a combination of cutting-edge data management and storage technologies.
What is unstructured data?
The best way to understand unstructured data is to start with structured data. Structured data is found in databases. Each record in a database is comprised of fields, such as Name, Address, and Phone Number. Structured data is uniform. It’s easy to organize, sort and search.
Unstructured data is any data that is not stored in a database. Examples include Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, emails, social media posts, photos, and so forth. Video and audio recordings are forms of unstructured data, too. Unstructured data also encompasses mixed data sets found in data lakes.
Enterprises generate a lot of unstructured data. Indeed, experts estimate that about 80% of enterprise data is unstructured. It’s a growing category, as well, with IDC sharing that unstructured data worldwide is expected to grow at a rate of around 20% for the next four years, reaching 144 ZB in 2025.
Why is unstructured data important for the enterprise?
Unstructured data is a potentially valuable digital asset to decision makers, often containing unique information about the way a business is running. Collectively, it can tell a story about sales, marketing, or any other aspects of an organization that structured data cannot tell. For example, insights about customer sentiment and brand perceptions, which can be critical for growth, are often buried inside millions of social media posts or customer service chats. These unstructured data sets are where customers’ real feelings come through. If companies want to use unstructured data for these purposes, they have to learn to track and manage it. This is easier said than done.
What’s the problem with unstructured data?
While unstructured data embodies a business opportunity, it also comes with risk. For example, unstructured data, such as sales contracts, can easily contain personally identifiable information (PII) that is subject to privacy laws. Valuable intellectual property, or credit card numbers may also be floating around in PDFs that are stored in on-prem or cloud storage repositories, which are vulnerable to bad actors who want to steal the data and hold it for ransom.
This is a challenging situation. For one thing, in most enterprises, IT system managers have no real visibility into all of the unstructured data their company has–making it impossible to protect or leverage its value. Then there’s the high cost of storing all of that data–much of which could be duplicate data or no longer necessary to retain. The cloud represents an attractive target for storing unstructured data, but even the “economies of scale” of the hyperscalers have proven no match for the mountain of unstructured data being created and replicated each year. The high cost of traditional cloud storage coupled with complicated tiering with different pricing models has only made matters worse for customers.
What does this mean for MSPs?
Unstructured data presents an opportunity for MSPs to differentiate themselves from their competition and grow revenue by providing a valuable service. If unstructured data represents a source of value to the customer, but also a risk, then an MSP that can enable the client to realize the value while mitigating the risk will be in a strong position to win that customer’s business. The MSP must have an effective service to offer, however. That’s where the Wasabi-Aparavi joint solution comes into play.
The Wasabi-Aparavi joint solution for unstructured data
The Aparavi Data Intelligence and Automation Platform, from Wasabi technology alliance partner Aparavi, helps organizations take control of out-of-control unstructured data by simplifying and automating the entire data management process. The Aparavi platform helps organizations identify, classify, optimize, and move their unstructured data for optimal protection, compliance, and cost savings. When coupled with high-performance, low-cost Wasabi hot cloud storage, MSPs have a powerful, easily integrated solution for solving their customers’ unstructured data challenges.
With the joint solution, MSPs can provide tangible value to their customers to take control of their unstructured data. Aparavi enables the MSP to organize the customer’s unstructured data, filter it based on criteria like Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and analyze its usage. This all occurs automatically, with little user effort.
Wasabi complements Aparavi’s unstructured data management capabilities with limitless scale, security, and predictable pricing. MSPs now enable their customers to cost-effectively store all of their data and meet all of the various data retention requirements determined automatically by Aparavi in one low-cost, high-performance tier of storage. At the same time, the solution identifies sensitive data and makes sure it is protected from ransomware by leveraging security features such as Wasabi Object Lock or immutable buckets.
Unstructured data represents a problem for customers, but also an opportunity for MSPs. If enterprises can manage their unstructured data better, they can avoid compliance risks while gaining valuable insights at the same time. MSPs can help their customers realize these objectives with the Wasabi-Aparavi joint solution.
For more information, please check out our newest solution webinar: How Unstructured Data Management is Creating a New Revenue Stream for Service Providers