Important Questions for Those Considering Data Archiving

May 16, 2016
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Are you looking for a cost-effective way to manage your ever-growing data?  If so, it is important to consider data archiving, not only for financial reasons but for the health and vitality of your company data as well.  It is the perfect choice for those that want to keep their primary storage “clean”, and ultimately allows the backup and restore processes to function at their prime potentials.  Data archiving is the best way to gain access to inactive data in the most effortless manner imaginable.

Archiving is one of the sound financial decisions an organisation could make to drive the storage costs down as well as reduce the complexity of the backup environment. The amount of cost and operational benefits that follow the implementation an archiving solution cannot be understated -- businesses would gain the ultimate freedom with regards to bringing storage expansion under control.

The Basics of Incorporating a Storage Archive

Storage administrators need not be confused when it comes to implementing a particular archiving structure.  If you look at the system in its most basic form, all one must do is move data from one place to another.  Easy as pie!  The software is on the market that will help identify and explore problematic activity and characteristics, which essentially grant the user the opportunity to make well-informed choices when it comes to archiving.  In preparation for incorporating a storage archive, people must ask themselves some basic questions.  In answering the following questions, IT professionals will be fully aware of what choices they must make that will best compliment and meet the needs of their environments.

Top 5 Questions One Must Ask:

  1. What type of data will be sent to archive? Most people would answer: "cold" data, which usually refers to those files that have NOT been accessed for 6 months or longer.  Safety and security are of utmost importance regarding this storage space because you never know what it might be needed for, and how fast it might need to be recovered.  Consider the possibility that this "cold" data may be needed for audits regarding compliance or legal cases.  No matter why or how it’s needed, this data MUST be stored properly so it stays in its integrity over time.
  2. What type of storage technology is being used? Data storage is a balance of both hardware and medium.  Updates are absolutely essential when it comes to firmware and software alike.  Interfaces must also be upgraded over time.  It is interesting to note that tape actually has an impeccable lifespan if it is well taken care of.  In fact, under the right conditions, it could even last up to 100 years! With respect to hard disks, many think that powering down the drive would preserve its life, but this is actually not true, and to be frank, can cause DUDL (Data Unavailable Data Loss).  And then there’s SDD, which functions electronically.  This electronic reliance will eventually result in cell degradation and burn out.  SDD vendors cannot pinpoint a timeframe which sums up their lifespans, but it's safe to say they will continue to work for at least 3 years, though as inherently imperfect creations, they will wear out just like every other form of technology mentioned above.
  3. Do you know the format of your data? Bear in mind that the preservation of the "bits" ensures the usability of stored data as time goes by.  With this stored data, individuals must be able to get their hands on hardware that will assist with reading the data.  Another factor that must be taken into consideration is the application that offers the helping hand needed to interpret data.  Do not underestimate the great help offered by such applications that will check how readable and useable your stored data is.
  4. Does the archive live in the cloud or on-premise? Today, businesses can actually say that the cloud can be used as a long-term retention solution.  There is no question that the cloud is one of the greatest technological creations of our time, however, with every positive, there seems to be negative.  Let's start with the positive aspects of the cloud.  You can pay on a usage basis which is a great feature.  Another aspect is that cloud providers will offer that delicate balance so necessary for the type, age, and interface of the device.  This way, clients can rest easy knowing that their data is readily available at any time from anywhere.  As for the negatives, they are somewhat few but significant.  For starters, over time, data will grow and guess what -- the cost of the cloud will grow right along with it.  Bear in mind that the cloud will ultimately be a cheaper option than in moving data to the actual data centre.  However, high cost is not the worst point here.  What really gets a lot of people up in arms is that when the cloud is relied upon for data archiving, data is NOT readily available during the appropriate timeframe.  In fact, when it comes to the recovery process, system restores processes and compliance issues, getting the data from the cloud to the centre could take much too long.  This is NOT good when time-sensitive data is needed for time-sensitive processes.
  5. What knowledge do you have on your own data? Most IT administrators cannot pull from memory the amount of data stored on each application, the name of the owner, and the age of that data.  There is, however, software that exists that CAN discovers this information with a quick scan.  Following the scan of the environments, reports are produced which offer a clear view into what should and should not be archived.  This report grants businesses the ease of managing such aspects as capacity, cost, and potential expansion.

For the Health of your storage environment, you Must Archive!

Data management can become complicated, so clear pictures and great tools must be sought after in order to protect the health and lifespan of the data.  As a weekly or daily occurrence, archiving can essentially guarantee that businesses will stay on top of data and be covered with protection and integrity.  By confidently and clearly answering the questions laid out above, organisations can be sure that they will make the best archiving choices aligned with their specific needs.


Jason Zhang is the product marketing person for Rocket Software's Backup, Storage, and Cloud solutions.