Information management involves classifying and dealing with information in a uniform way, so that redundant, old and transient (ROT) information is disposed of, duplicates are tracked and dealt with as a single record, and retained information is ordered so that it is easy to find.

Up until now, information management has focused primarily on unstructured data (Microsoft Office files, PDFs, emails, etc.). Structured data, more commonly known as database information, has not received its share of attention, mainly because of two reasons: because of the way relational databases are designed, it’s difficult to remove individual records without corrupting the relationships; and database information is already in an ordered state, so that finding the information you want is not difficult. However, just like unstructured data, databases contain ROT. Some of the ROT can be harmful to an organization, either when it faces litigation, or if it is subject to a data breach (just as Target, who had 10 year old customer data it no longer needed stolen from a database).

Well, structured data has finally started to appear on the information management radar. On June 16th, Gartner Research released its second annual “Magic Quadrant for Structured Data Archiving and Application Retirement” (the first report was issued a year ago in June, 2014). This study ranked vendors who provide solutions for archiving and disposing of structured data into four quadrants: Leaders, Challengers, Niche Players and Visionaries.

Not surprisingly, since this is a relatively new field, there were only two vendors classified as Visionaries, and both were almost classified as Leaders – EMC and Teradata. Unlike the rest, who basically offer solutions that copy entire databases to less expensive storage, EMC and Teradata offer solutions that analyse database content and relational structure, and offer solutions to extract just those bits of data that are no longer required, or can be taken offline.

Making up more than three-quarters of all data, structured information needs to be included in any information management plan. Gartner’s report helps those facing this hurdle to sort out the vendor playing field.