Kaizen Infosource LLC

I’ve heard that before – “I don’t have to care about retention anymore”



Have you heard the statement “I don’t have to care about retention anymore; I am going to store my data in the cloud”? I have. Statements like this one make me think of the blue sky filling up with so much data that it blocks out the sun, clouds turn dark; the weight of the sky becomes oppressive. My shoulders curve to bear the weight of the data on my back, and the burden weighs me down.

Oh wait! I was just exaggerating; but only a little. If companies relinquish their responsibilities to a cloud vendor, they are making decisions to ignore what could be impossible, if not impractical to defend or support. I have heard that statement more than one time in my career. I have heard it in the last year. When I hear it I do roll my eyes. For someone to say that they are going to ignore retention requirements because all they have to do is store their data in the cloud, they are choosing to diminish managing information to a single issue. If storage and retention were the only aspects of managing information, then the staffing levels of most IT and RIM departments are way too big. Managing information is more than just storage.

Managing information, your information, and my information has many components. First of all ownership! Organizations own their information. Being concerned about all components of my information is the beginning of realizing that “just storing it in the cloud and hoping for the best” is risky business. Information is needed to do business and defend the organization in times of litigation. The courts don’t let you get away with not managing all the components. Their perspective is if you have it, you must think it is important, so it must be accessible and available. But if my information is “just being stored” by another party, can we always get to it? What are my rights? What if I don’t want to keep paying for information that should be deleted – its retention is passed. Not controlling retention means you relinquish your ability to control costs, and increases risk.

Managing information means having the right rules for what is an appropriate record. Not everything that is created by employees in an organization can be classified as pertaining the organization’s business. Are you giving up these rights also just to not pay for employee costs? Uncontrolled and unmanaged, just storing data in the cloud adds up. Maybe not as fast, but you will need labor to determine what is relevant in litigation. Whether you should have saved it at all or for this long will also impact costs. Leaving the decision about how long to store data in the cloud to others, is very safely assuming you are willing to leave the costs of managing your information to someone else as well. I refuse to give up that right. And there are those other aspects of information that need to be considered too.

Managing information includes defining what is a record, the sensitivity of information, protecting information, information use, retention, classification, and those are just on the information side. These are management issues that may or may not be valued at the same level by services in the cloud.