5 myths about ROT - Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial Files
Industry analysts quote the growth of unstructured content at around 40% a year. A big contributor to content growth is Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial (ROT) files.
[As is the case with our 8 things series, the opinions expressed in the 5 myths guest columns are those of the guest contributor and not necessarily mine or AIIM's. This guest post is by John Bellegarde is Vice President of Marketing at Active Navigation (www.activenavigation.com). As usual, contra perspectives welcome.]
Myth #1: There is no Content ROT in my organization -- My organization has policies and procedures in place to make sure that there is no ROT in my file servers, collaboration systems or in my ECM system.
Reality: ROT is everywhere. End users control what is put into storage, and they are impossible to control.
First, they are information hoarders. When a user finds a document they like, they save a copy to their “O:” drive. Even worse, they do not feel empowered to delete anything, anytime. They even save archives, backup files and the like. Worst still, they feel that the “O:” drive is the place for their iTunes library and worse personal data.
ROT is created every day, and just compounds as new documents are created. The fact is that 1/3 of all of the content in an unmanaged server is ROT. It can be as much as 70% ROT!
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Myth #2: Content ROT isn’t hurting my organization. ROT doesn’t really hurt my organization. We have been in business for years, and this has never been a problem.
Reality: ROT hurts you every day. ROT makes it hard to find the really important documents in your organization. ROT makes it easy to misplace sensitive data, that you don’t want found. ROT places unnecessary risks in your organization that will result in loss of productivity, reputation and increased exposure to litigation. It gums up search engines and their indexes. When people leave the organization their ROT is left behind and gets in the way of others. ROT huts you in just so many ways.
Myth #3: Content ROT isn’t costing my organization anything, so why worry? Disks are cheap now a days, so why care?
Reality: The total cost of ownership for storage is way more than you think. High speed reliable disk itself is about 5X more expensive than the hard drive in your laptop. It sits in servers, that have to be managed, backed up, cooled and the like. Most organizations charge back a Terabyte of content at a cost of between $20,000 - $30,000 a year. An average iTunes library will run $1500/year. If that storage is in SharePoint or an ECM system, multiply that cost x3! A lot more than that 500GB drive at BestBuy.
Myth #4: I have specialized hardware that deals with ROT. My Storage Area Network (SAN) detects duplicates. Isn’t that enough?
Reality: While it is true that specialized hardware can effectively manage some of the storage problems related to ROT, then only handle part of the problem, binary duplicates on the same server. It doesn’t handle near duplicates, out of policy data, sensitive data, and trivial items. What’s more, it doesn’t reduce file count, so search the ROT is still seen by the users and indexed by search engines. There are a lot of great reasons to have high-end storage hardware, but eliminating ROT isn’t one of them.
Myth #5: ROT is hard to eliminate. Even if ROT is costing my organization, it is too hard to find and eliminate.
Reality: In the past, we have left it up to our end users to deal with ROT. They caused the problem in the first place, so they cannot be part of the solution. In the 90’s we tried technology like enterprise search. Search is good at finding bits of ROT, but it isn’t fit for ROT hunting.
What is needed is involving People with a Process and specialized Technology to attack the ROT problem.
- Only People can make the kind of decisions necessary to remove content for a system
- Only Technology can identify ROT and present it for processing
- Without a well-defined Process, it is impossible to take a systematic approach to eliminating ROT.
About the Author: John Bellegarde is Vice President of Marketing at Active Navigation (www.activenavigation.com). John has worked in content management since the late 80s and is currently helping to clean up the mess earlier generations of solutions has created.
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About John F. Mancini
John Mancini is the Chief Evangelist and Past President of AIIM. He is a well-known author and speaker on information management, digital transformation and intelligent automation. John is a frequent keynote speaker and author of more than 30 eBooks on a variety of topics. He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as jmancini77.