Data archiving: The importance of asking the right questions

amedee potier

Guest blog: Amedee Potier, Rocket Software.

Amedee Potier joined Rocket Software in 2003 and is currently Senior Director of R&D, where he oversees several Rocket products in the Data Protection space. His focus is on solutions for data protection and management in heterogeneous multi-vendor and multi-platform environments.

In this day and age of rapid data growth, trying to get a handle on managing it all can seem overwhelming.

The good news is, there’s a tool that can help. Data archiving can ensure a clean primary storage drive, and a backup and recovery environment that performs at top-notch levels. It’s essential for users to understand that regardless of possessing all the right tools, mistakes can and still happen. However, by effectively archiving your data, information is easily accessible, which is a huge relief!

By making your data available in such a way, potential disaster is averted, and who doesn’t love the security in that? One of the highlights of archiving, other than averting disaster, is the fact that it provides financial benefits by helping to reduce costs associated with data loss and recovery. Talk about a plus!

How do I start effectively archiving data for storage?

Even though it may overwhelm you at first to incorporate a plan like this into your backup environment, it’s not as complicated as it may sound.

Think about it this way:  you are moving data from one location to another. Does that sound easy enough? You might be wondering what to do if things get “hairy” during the transport of your data. Good news. Software exists that can help you in sticky situations, as well as assisting users in making the best decisions regarding successful archiving.

As you prepare to incorporate an archiving plan, be sure to ask yourself the right questions so you will end up with a solution that perfectly suits the individual needs of your department. Here are a few of the most essential ones to ask before you invest in data archiving:

1) Do you know the type of data you are going to be storing?

Have you heard of “cold” data?

This is data that has not been used in the past 6 months or more. This ought to be kept safe and easily accessible, for compliance audits or legal reasons. Want to know how to find out if you’ve invested in a good archiving system? See if your system is able to show you who looked at data and at what time. If you can access this information, you are in good hands!

2) What technology are you planning to use?

Successful data storage depends on what hardware you are using, as well as the medium you are using.

Don’t forget about the importance of interfaces – these must be updated regularly to run smoothly. Many administrators rely upon tape for its long life, especially when it is not used often and is stored properly.  Did you know that if storage and usage is managed well, tape can last up to 100 years!

Others in the technology world argue that disk is also very reliable and has a very long life. Especially if drives are properly powered down. Some even claim that hard disk has the potential to outlive tape under the right conditions. The proof is in the proverbial “pudding”, however. Hard disk – though reliable – can sometimes be problematic, causing DUDL (Data Unavailable Data Loss).

Another point to consider is SSD and the fact that cell degradation comes as a result of their electronic functions. Even vendors are not completely aware of what the SSD lifespan is. It’s important to remember that all man-made machines will eventually die over time. The moral to this story is that whatever you end up choosing for technology, it is vital that regular planning and testing are carried out.

3) What format is your data in?

“Bits” must be well-taken care of in order to guarantee stored data stays usable.

It is prudent to also invest in hardware that can help read and interpret your data. This investment will not be in vain!  In fact, it will be an essential part of successfully storing your data.

4) Is the location of your archive in the cloud or on site?

It’s possible that cloud storage is a viable long-term means of archiving your data.

In fact, using the cloud for storage is a huge advancement. Keep in mind that all man-made inventions will eventually be problematic. Regarding the cloud, the current issue is with long-term retention. One of the cloud’s benefits is that clients can use it on a pay-as-you-go basis, which can be more budget-friendly than using a data centre.

Another is that people can call upon their providers to help with managing their cloud storage. In doing so, they are given valuable information about their storage devices such as facts regarding the type, age, and interface.

In the end, users have the assurance of knowing that their data can be accessible anytime. This is fantastic news for many people!

What about the downsides?

The first negative is that as your data grows, so does the cost of your cloud storage.

Then there’s the time involved in getting to the data if it is needed for a recovery, restore, or a compliance issue.  These issues tend to be very time sensitive, and data must be available quickly, which is not where the clouds necessarily shines.

5) What other information do you know regarding your data?

Many users understand their storage capacities, but fail to understand how much data is stored in an application.

Most people also could not tell you the data’s owner, or its age.

Fortunately, software exists that can help administrators find this information. This particular software produces reports that will display what data is needed and will then archive it. With a simple keystroke, these easy-to-read reports can be created with all the necessary information on them. What a benefit!

Archiving is a Must!

Data archiving is becoming increasingly important as user data continues to grow over time.

It is a great tool that helps with organising and understanding data and storage groups. If more administrators truly grasped the centrality of archiving and how it helps to preserve their backup environments, most people would get it done today!

With an automatic feature, archiving is now made to eliminate some of the hard work and confusion that can happen. If you want to keep your systems functioning smoothly, cut your costs, and store your data so it’s always available and accessible, you must consider archiving. Keep in mind that it is important to be well prepared by being able to answer the questions above.

If you do this, you’ll be well on the way to implementing a system which will suit the needs of your department.

Guest blog: Amedee Potier, Rocket Software.