Data Archiving

Data Archiving Solutions – Solve many storage headaches

Data archiving is a method to identify then migrate inactive data that hasn’t been accessed for a period to archival storage tiers.  Moved inactive data frees up disk space and allows systems to perform better and reduces the backup window.  Depending on the type of archiving software the migrated files can be accessed by way of a stub, so the user is not aware the file has been moved.

Data Archiving Solutions

Deploying a Data Archiving solution is often overlooked by companies as they normally choose the backup route. The problem with pursuing this methodology is data volumes are growing faster than the available backup capacity. Solutions today can easily identify and migrate files based upon the setting up of simple rules. The archive data can be moved to different storage tiers including tape, optical and to either new primary or secondary RAID storage. The files can be moved, stubbed, deleted, copied, migrated or backed up. Significant financial and time savings can be achieved by deploying a tiered data archiving solution can reduce your backup window and decrease the time to restore servers in the event of a catastrophe and free up valuable tier 1 disk space. The archiving solutions can also migrate data from Windows, Linux, Novell, NetApp, EMC, Fujitsu, IBM, Hitachi and others.

You will also be able to identify the type, size, modified and created dates, how many files exist and where they exist.

Why do we need to archive?

Typically you need to archive for compliance, legislation or legal requirements. The data retention period could be anything from 12 months to 50+ years depending on industry sector. How we store this data is critical when making very long term storage requirements. Things that must be considered are energy use, heating/cooling, special environmental requirements and the ability to read the information many decades into the future. Constantly we are being challenged to adopt the latest technologies with little thought on its suitability for archiving critical information.

Another reason is that there are larger capacity disk drive appearing and now in 2017 we have 12TB drives and in 2018 12TB drives will appear, so in a 1u rack you could have 48TB’s of disk space.  To perform a nightly backup on these ever increasing disk capacities is becoming a huge task for many companies that are trying to keep up with the data avalanche.  The only real solution is to start considering Data Archiving in a more pragmatic view, just because data resides in an archive doesn’t mean it isn’t available.  A data archive should be part of your overall storage strategy and part of your backup/replication planning.  A 64-bay Proware with dual FC 16Gb/s controllers, Citrix / VMware certified solution fits in 4u and costs £15,545.00 minus the disk drives.  This system today holds 640TB’s and could be part of a tiered archiving solution, by activating the MAID function automatic power down of volumes occurs which is not being used.

Storage Tiering

What is a data archive?

Everyone needs to save data whether it is important legal documents, engineering drawings, mortgage paperwork, films, photo’s, music or business documents etc.  How long this information needs to be kept is based on the following:

  1. Corporate Governance
  2. Legal requirements
  3. Company legislation
  4. Country legislation
  5. International agreements
  6. Healthcare legislation
  7. Personal choice
  8. Historical significance
  9. And so on

Data access

How long we store and need to maintain information could be from 1 month to 100+ years, it all depends on the above and what is stipulated.  How this data is stored and where it is stored is of more importance, if you need to access a document from 10 years ago you need to identify the following:

  1. How easy can I obtain this?
  2. What type of document was it i.e. paper, word, text, .pdf etc?
  3. What method of storage did I use e.g. CD, DVD, HDD, USB etc?
  4. Did I use any particular programs to create the document?
  5. Can I read back the document using the technology today?
  6. Did I encrypt the document, where is the encryption key?
  7. Who created the document?

Key things to consider when archiving data

Many times things are overlooked or not considered and this can cause many problems and issues further down the line.

  1. Think how long you are going to need to keep the information and plan
  2. Do not look at data archiving as a single project, consider the broader picture
  3. Plan, discuss and plan again for what time of data and the volumes you need to archive
  4. Always make two copies on two or more different storage platforms, so if one type of system isn’t around in 20+ years the other might be.
  5. Always write data in a readable format non-encrypted
  6. Always write data in an open format and standard
  7. Keep a copy in 2 or 3 different locations
  8. Regularly check to see if your archive data is intact and readable
  9. Make sure you know where it is, so write it down
  10. Try to avoid compression and deduplication – you need to be able to read it back
  11. Keep control of your documents and information – It has an intrinsic value to you or your business
  12. Take a long term cost analysis – Archiving has less to do with savings and more to do with long term data integrity

 The benefits of Data Archiving

There are a number of savings to be made by putting in place a viable Data Archiving solution, some of these are shown below:

  1. Free up expensive tier 1 disk space – Moving infrequently accessed data, thus extending the life of the storage
  2. Increased system performance – By freeing up disk space on high-performance storage causes less file fragmentation and faster response times to those that need it
  3. Reduced backup Window – By deploying a data archiving solution you could reduce your backup window by 50%+
  4. Reduced backup software costs – Many companies today purchase backup software based on a capacity license, so reducing the backup capacity, reduces costs
  5. Less rack space – As shown above, you could hold today 384TB’s in 4u using Nearline high capacity drives
  6. Energy savings – An archive typically consumes far less energy than constantly spinning data and saves on air conditioning
  7. Identify data – By putting in a data archive you should be able to see which departments and users are creating the most data and the file types
  8. Greater ROI – By prolonging your tier 1 or backup storage requirements, enables you to save money and make better-informed decisions
  9. Fewer things to consider – Using a tiered archive solution stores the data on less expensive storage and when you need to upgrade your tier 1 storage you have fewer data to move and migrate, you could even integrate your old tier 1 storage be part of your archive strategy.

Data Archiving summary

We think many more companies should be looking at the option to put in place an archiving solution, you will see immediate benefits.  By providing a data archiving solution based upon a variety of technologies that secure, migrate and archive information for extensive periods will ensure your information is secured correctly for the short and long term.  The archive data can easily be identified and migrated to a long-term archival storage.

 Backup Less Archive More

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