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Data Classification for the Masses

More on this important aspect of SMS.

More on this important aspect of SMS.

One major issue in storage management, data back ups, and disaster planning is the classification of data. I have written about SMS, back ups and disaster planning before, but I have only touched on this issue a little bit. This article dives deeper into this important aspect.

The Wrong Stuff

Most shops do not classify data by business need. Rather they implement broad categories, such as production, system, development, and possibly a couple more.

Also, sometimes the only criterion for management of data is the age of the file. If it hasn't been touched for a certain length of time, it's either migrated or deleted.

As for back ups, usually the entire storage group is either backed up or it's not. Sometimes there is data in those groups that need special care, or none at all, but few go to that level of management.

Retention, on tape, disk, CD, or other media is another area that is rarely managed. With the latest regulatory changes, this will have to change.

The Easy Stuff

Some classification of data is easy. System data - that which is required to IPL and keep the system going - is amongst the easiest. If it isn't there, then you have a major problem. But, the definition of "system" is sometimes too broad.

System Maintenance Program/Extended (SMP/E) data is almost in a category of its own. Should this data be readily available at all times? I tend to say yes, but some shops only bring it down when it's time to apply maintenance. This can be problematic if the storage group doesn't have enough room to restore. That's why I tend to say it's "system critical."

Ted MacNeil is a capacity/performance analyst with more than 25 years in the IBM mainframe environment. Ted can be reached at



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