Unstructured Data: A Guide To Storage And Management

27th July, 2020

According to the IDG (International Data Group, Inc.) unstructured data makes up approximately 80% of all data and growing at a rate of 55% to 65% every year. It is becoming more and more important to the decisions that get made in business every day. That is, if we learn how to manage and store it correctly. Learn more about how your organization should handle its data. 

What is unstructured data? 

First, to understand unstructured data, what do we consider structured data.  

Structured data is data that we have seen for years in relational databases, like MySQL or MS SQL. The data to be received is usually split up into rows and columns. The data would be data that we can set parameters for like a zip code, or a social security number, and even an address. Predictably, you know how long the data lengths are and they can be easily stored in relational databases.  

On the other hand, unstructured data is almost everything else not covered by structured data. Clearly, the data itself has structure, but there is no real way to quantify it in a relational database. OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) calls it “information that was not specifically encoded for machines to process but rather authored by humans for humans to understand.”  

Simply, it could be a word document, a video file, or even pictures. Aside from copies, no two are ever alike, so it is hard to put structure around it. There are two types of unstructured data: 

1. Human-generated 

Human-created data and files like email, form fills, images, websites, media, text documents.  

2. Machine-generated

Machine-created data and files that include digital surveillance, satellite imagery, and scientific calculations and data. 

Data crunching & munching 

It is estimated that up to 90% of data collected or generated by organizations is unstructured. Additionally, it is rapidly growing – by most accounts, much faster than structured data. It may seem like unstructured also means unnecessary. However, this is not the case.  

Unstructured data contains a wealth of information, that if stored correctly can help guide a business or organization when making critical business decisions. For example, AI and machine learning are two fairly recent ways that data missing an official organizational structure is becoming increasingly beneficial and actionable business intelligence.  

So, what do we do with it? 

While structured data has had a long time to work out most of the bugs, unstructured data is still relatively new and there is a true champion for it. There are several tools that you can use to manage unstructured data such as Hadoop or NoSQL, but just as important as the tool selected to manage your unstructured data is a server solution. Just like a traditional RDBMS being able to extract the data needed in a timely fashion, an unstructured data system will need a lot of horsepower too. 

Unstructured data storage options 

Deciding how to store your data largely depends on how often you want to access it. There are many options ranging from cloud storage for simple storage to bare metal and GPU servers to help you manage and structure your data.  

For example, archived data, or data that you will almost never access is very inexpensive to store. Archiving data can be as low as .00099 cents per GB, per month if using Object Cloud Storage. Options range from hot tiered data, or data that is readily available for use to cold tiered data, or data that is rarely accessed. Depending on your storage preferences, you store data for later retrieval and processing.  

However, on the other end of unstructured data storage. If you are looking to store and compute large amounts of unstructured data, an Nvidia GPU server from THG Hosting allows you to quickly and efficiently process huge amounts of data simultaneously. GPUs harness more processing power while also offering a low-cost option for making the most of your organizational data.  

Let us help 

Luckily, THG Hosting has a full team ready to help you solve your data storage challenges. A simple chat with our Solutions Experts can result in an inexpensive, high-performance data storage and management solution that perfectly fits your data and workload. Get started today by partnering with THG Hosting.