5 essential considerations for planning and implementing your active archive strategy

Blogs and Articles

In today's digital economy, businesses are becoming ever more reliant on data. Most organizations leverage data as a product itself or use it to support business operations. Every day, new solutions incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, and these solutions depend on the power of big data to drive better business decisions.

December 17, 20217 mins
Iron Mountain logo with blue mountains

But how do you manage all of that data-keeping only what you need and making archived data accessible when you need it-while storing data securely throughout its lifecycle? It's kind of like cleaning out an attic; it's a bit overwhelming and you're not quite sure what is trash and what is treasure. Beyond sorting into the "toss" and "save" piles, however, there is an important middle ground: keeping data and mining its value via an active archive.

The term "active archive" sounds like a contradiction. Yet, with the emergence and adoption of digital transformation initiatives in recent years, archives should no longer be thought of as long-term storage in that dusty old attic. Data is now at the heart of most businesses, changing the way archives can and should be used. Instead of passive data sets that are "locked away," archives are now more "active" and can be easily leveraged to unlock business value.

To learn more about the rise of active archives and their transformational role in business, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) conducted a comprehensive online survey of IT professionals involved in data archiving and long-term retention strategies. The research shows that these five essential criteria should be evaluated when planning and implementing your active archive strategy.

  1. Data growth "“ According to ESG, the mean total volume of data stored in an organization is 8.7 petabytes (PB) and 4 PB of that data is archived. On average, this archived data is retained for 10 years. Interestingly, 46% of total archives are considered active archives. The growth of active archives is enormous, with an annual mean growth rate of 36%. So, if you aren't on the active archive bandwagon yet, it may become an important way to leverage your data as a business asset.

  2. Access "“ In many organizations, archives are accessed multiple times per day; ESG's research shows 44% of respondents reporting daily access and 79% leveraging their archive on a weekly basis. In half the cases, the average age of the information accessed is a year old or less. Even more importantly, users who want to access this data want it quickly; 68% of IT professionals want to recover or retrieve data from their archive within minutes. When designing your archive solution, be sure to consider access characteristics, performance, and usability.

  3. Scale "“ Not surprisingly, active archives require massive scale. This is identified as the most important characteristic and is often a core design parameter for an active archive. In addition to very high or unlimited storage scalability, IT professionals also expect robust search capabilities and a price point that optimizes operational efficiencies. Active archives distinguish themselves as solutions that support multiple types of storage technologies, including public cloud layers and on-premises deployment options.

  4. Performance "“ The top three drivers for implementing an active archive are improved data access, followed by improved data lifecycle and operational efficiency in supporting the core business. As organizations move from data-reactive to data-centric, these benefits can help create new product offerings and improve customer satisfaction. According to ESG, 64% of respondents said an active archive significantly improved data retrieval times. As IT professionals reviewed their decision criteria for an active archive, overall performance was the number one consideration, chosen by 27% of those surveyed.

  5. Leveraging the cloud "“ When implementing an active archive, an overwhelming number of organizations use public cloud services for both their inactive archive and active archive data. Eighty-seven percent of organizations store their active archive data in the cloud, while 93% store all archive data in the cloud. From an infrastructure standpoint, active archive topologies are primarily hybrid, combining cloud and on-premises deployments.

So, at a top level, how does an active archive work? An active archive requires a tiered storage solution that gives people or other IT systems access to data through a common, unified file system that automatically retrieves and places that data on the appropriate storage tier. 

Organizations that store more than 10 PB of total archive data, retrieve archive data daily, typically retrieve data that is less than six months old, and want access to this data within seconds are more likely to have a higher percentage of active archive data. Businesses who fit this profile can benefit the most from an active archive solution.

As you evaluate your organization's data-centricity and data growth, the issues of access, scale, and performance all become important considerations, along with leveraging the cloud for an active archive solution. 

To learn more, download our ebook The Transformational Rise of Active Archives.

Elevate the power of your work

Get a FREE consultation today!

Get Started