Creating an Effective Long-Term Strategy

By Elizabeth Millard  |  Posted 2008-04-25 Print this article Print

Enterprises must find innovative ways to file archives in light of increasing compliance, productivity and cost-control needs. 

In making sure data and unstructured content can live long, healthy lives in digital suspension, enterprises need to buy devices and software that seem like they can last, but they must also create deeper strategic management around long-term storage, Clifford notes.

“You don’t want your technical resources determining your policies about information retention,” he says. In other words, just because you have the storage capacity, it doesn’t mean you should be dumping every bit of digital jetsam and flotsam into an archive. Clifford adds, "”t comes down to understanding the business and talking to other managers about what they need and for how long. Archiving intelligently begins with these conversations, not with buying more technology.”

During these talks, non-IT executives should be informed about how archiving works, Clifford says. Many assume that data gets stored like file folders in a company basement, where items can just be pulled out whenever needed.

He notes, “Just because you have data sitting on tapes, doesn’t mean it can be retrieved in the same format─and instantly. People need to know this when making their department’s archiving decisions.”

Also crucial in gauging whether an internal IT department will handle the archiving or whether it’ll be outsourced to a storage firm is the strength of existing staff resources, Clifford says. “Generally, IT is putting out fires, so they need to think about whether they have the expertise required to address long-term archiving issues,” he says.

Archiving tasks include upgrading systems, migrating information, bringing on new technology, retiring older technology, and staying informed about changing standards, native formats and storage changes, explains NetApp’s Cummings. Also, security concerns increase as more data is stored, he says, so an IT department will have to be savvy about multiple layers of encryption and managing access.

Of course, hardware is also important. An enterprise should closely follow the numerous discussions about tape technology, although those are rife with contradictions: Tape is dead! Long live tape! But, in general, conversations with tape and disk vendors could be useful in understanding a company’s specific needs, Picardi says.

“There is a great deal going on with combinations,” he notes, “such as secondary archiving and different types of disk drives all blended into one.”

Although long-term data archiving is creating a greater challenge for enterprises, particularly as energy concerns around power and cooling are increasing, Cummings believes vendors will continue being more innovative about blending media and creating technology built to last.

“Within the next five years, I think we’ll see some good gains in terms of dynamic technology focused on this specific issue,” he says. “In the meantime, that gives companies time to work out their data management decisions about long-term storage.”


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