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Implementing information governance in your data storage shop

Learn about information governance from Randy Kahn. Explore issues around litigation requests, records retention and electronically stored information (ESI)

Column summary: This month we're featuring the first in a series of columns by consultant Randy Kahn on the topic of information governance, and the litigation requests and policies that surround it. Kahn is the founder of Kahn Consulting Inc., and the leader of a team of consultants who focus on information management and regulatory compliance. This column offers 10 truisms for information governance in 2011.

In fairytales like Peter Pan, belief and a sprinkling of fairy dust can make you fly. In the real world, however, simply believing and hoping your data will stay secure no matter how and where you store it, and how often you access it, will almost always bring about an unhappy ending.

In our consulting practice, we deal with storage professionals on issues relating to e-communications, discovery, backup tapes, social networking, records retention, cloud computing and more. People either want to believe they can do anything they desire with corporate data or remove themselves, fly away if you will, from the business issues that are inextricably linked to the information in their servers.

Over the next several months, I hope to share my information storage governance experience by sharing real-world scenarios and technical tips to guide you through practical challenges in today's data storage environments.

And let's make this a conversation, not just a column. Please send comments and questions my way. In exchange, I ask you to remain open to transforming your thinking in the face of a changing business world, one that comes with new challenges and great consequences for failing to get it right.

Here are 10 truisms to contemplate as you proceed into your 2011 data storage technology planning.

1. You can't keep everything forever.

2. You can't get rid of everything tomorrow.

3. Your business is impacted when you kill content without regard to what it is. (For example, a post-9/11 investigation into translating terrorism-related recordings found the FBI had, as quoted in The New York Times, "limited storage capacities in the system [which] meant that older tapes had sometimes been deleted automatically to make room for newer materials, even if the recordings had not yet been translated.")

4. Records retention isn't sexy. But you have to do it … or else.

5. Information technology needs to "own" the content in its systems or discovery requests will continue to confound IT departments.

6. "Innocent" storage professionals have already been nailed for destruction of evidence after recycling media to make room for new data.

7. There are plenty of laws to guide you when considering what to save and for how long.

8. According to a Kahn Consulting GRC Survey, employees aren't very good at records retention or responding to litigation with relevant electronically stored information (ESI).

9. Data is growing rapidly, and can be discovered in all sorts of scattered locations, making your job all the more challenging.

10. Storage is a central part of IT operations and shouldn't be viewed as an electronic dumping ground for the business.

If you believe you can take control of your data storage environment, my February column will provide practical advice on how you can do just that. If you have any questions specific to e-discovery, litigation holes, retention policies, data deletion policies -- anything at all -- send them my way.

About this author: Randy Kahn is the founder of Kahn Consulting Inc., and author of the Information Nation blog. He's the leader of a team of information management, regulatory compliance and technology professionals who serve as consultants and advisors to major institutions around the world. He speaks several times a year to corporate and government institutions about legal, compliance and policy issues regarding information technology. Randy Kahn can be reached at

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