Data Archiving: For the Data That Can Wait Until Tomorrow

Topics: Data Archive

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A tape-based data archiving strategy with intelligent search can help your enterprise grapple with ever-increasing information demands. Put it to work in helping you track down urgently needed information for e-discovery and regulatory requests—and more.

FAST FACT: The average enterprise maintains 100,000 terabytes of information—and that’s expected to grow 67% over the next year, according to Symantec’s 2012 State of Information survey.

DID YOU KNOW? E-discovery is a “significant burden” for 24% of IT organizations with an annual budget of $50 million or more, while 20% say it’s somewhat of a burden, according to a 2012 Enterprise Storage Group survey.

Friend, you’ve got data the way Noah had rain. What’s more, a lot of that information you’ve been keeping on active duty on disk drives is probably more than a year old.

While that’s fine for information that users need on a regular basis, it’s a waste of premium hard disk space for data that’s seldom in demand. That said, might it be time to take a closer look at your data management strategy?

A data archiving system should be part of your review. A data archive centrally houses older and infrequently accessed data on less-expensive storage media, such as tape or low-cost disk. Note that it doesn’t replace data backup, which you should still be doing to maintain on-demand copies of current data needed for your daily business. These serve as a critical backup if your primary data becomes corrupted or deleted.

Set Your Strategy, See Some Savings

A data archiving strategy encompasses processes for capturing, indexing and maintaining data, including defining what will be archived, where, and for how long. If industry regulations require you to retain certain records for years, a data archive is a smart way to remain in compliance.

You should realize some cost-savings as a result of adopting this strategy: Moving data off production-class systems and into an archive can save big bucks on storage. On this point, tape really is the ideal medium for high-volume archives. For long-term archiving of digital data, the average disk-based solution costs 15 times the average tape-based solution, according to a 2010 Clipper Group study. Moreover, under the right conditions tapes can last 30 years or more without degradation—and unlike disk, tapes don’t need to be constantly powered.

Besides addressing the cost challenges in managing data growth, a data archive strategy can help improve your ability to respond to e-discovery, audit and compliance requests by making it easier to find critical data with contained but comprehensive searches. In addition, a tape-based data archive can enhance overall performance for primary applications systems by offloading older data from production systems.

Lay the Groundwork for Your Archive
Consider these key questions as you lay the groundwork for your data archive:

  1. What’s going into the archive? As previously mentioned, you need a clear, well-defined and defensible set of policies for how you archive data. For certain records covered by regulations, the line of demarcation is nonnegotiable. But for other data, lifecycle definitions should extend into the archive and through to disposal.
  2. Do you need to back up the archive? What would happen if disaster struck and your data archive was damaged (perhaps due to employee negligence or natural disaster)? If industry regulations or standards mandate records retention, keeping a backup at another location is almost certainly a requirement. For total protection of your older information assets, consider storing copies of your data archive with an offsite tape vaulting service.
  3. Are you creating a searchable archive? Don’t just throw your data into cold storage. You’ll want smart archiving software that provides advanced search features and systematic archiving inventories. E-discovery software tools can let users quickly search files, email and other documents related to a specific topic.
  4. Should you call in a partner? An experienced information management provider can walk you through the logistical and legal considerations of building a data archive. In addition, an expert storage consultant can provide guidance on the right mix of technologies for your given data set.

When it comes to large-scale data archives, you will likely find tape the least expensive and most durable option out there. Start moving in that direction and you’ll be navigating your own personal data sea with a lot more finesse.

Iron Mountain Suggests: Spruce Up Your Archiving Policies

Your company has documented processes for moving older data to longer-term storage. But is the plan working as advertised? And will you be able to produce documents on demand when the auditors come knocking? Follow these steps to make sure your data archiving policy is up to date:

Step 1: Define your data-protection needs. Collect data retention and archiving requirements from all departments, and vet them. You’ll want to update them on a regular basis.

Step 2: Team with a trusted partner. An experienced offsite data backup and recovery subject matter expert can make regular tape pickups, provide convenient access to data, and store your tapes in secure, climate-controlled vaults.

Step 3: Provide access tools to the right people. An archiving system is only as good as its retrieval mechanisms. Identify which people or groups are responsible for specific data management tasks, and verify that they have the software and access privileges to carry out their jobs.

Do you have questions about data backup and recovery? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Backup and Recovery team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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