Practices still building to critical mass
Early adopters are typically the largest organizations, such as defense contractors and life science companies, driven by the serious consequences of compliance and government regulation. But the tools are still evolving, and the practice may take another year or more before it truly emerges as a mandatory strategic focus in the enterprise. "In most environments, it's a 'nice to have,' " says Greg Schulz, senior analyst at the Evaluator Group. "The industry may get along for another six months or another year without it." Other analysts suggest that
Integration into standard products
Analysts generally agree that data classification software has a long way to go. The tools that exist today are typically quite good within their own particular niche, but there are currently no "killer apps" -- no single utility does everything and no single utility works in every environment. For data classification to truly become a mainstream technology, classification-centric features must eventually appear in more standardized data management tools. "Really the most promising space is the development of frameworks and applications that help support custom development of data classification," Merryman says. Some storage insiders suggest that data classification features may ultimately appear embedded in some storage devices. "I see the potential for it to become more integrated with general storage I/O and server processing," notes Schulz. He sees data classification products becoming a more in-line and event-based process, taking action whenever a file is created or changed -- perhaps even becoming part of the operating system itself.
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