While providing long-term access to archive records can be of enormous benefit to your company, these same records can also represent a liability if poorly managed. For example, if your company is taken to court, it will be required to produce a wide range of records. Not only must they be delivered within a certain time frame, you must be able to demonstrate that they are authentic. Without a controlled archive strategy this could be impossible, greatly increasing your risk, but even with an archive, it must be built with risk mitigation on mind.
If you put all of your archive data on magnetic tapes offsite, searching for and retrieving data can prove impractical. Choose to store your archive data on rewritable magnetic disk and you may have an equally difficult time demonstrating that it has not been altered. Where data is retained beyond the legal obligation, it may be requested for disclosure, adding unnecessary risk.
In these examples, risk can be reduced by choosing a technology that allows data to be retained online, stored in a true WORM (Write Once Read Many) format, and physically destroyed at end-of-life.
When considering an archive solution, you must look at total cost of ownership (TCO) rather than pure acquisition cost. Because an archive operates for many years, your financial assessment should take into account the initial purchase and also maintenance, system replacement and the operating overhead. With the huge increases in electricity costs, more CIOs require archive solutions with the lowest possible power consumption and cooling overhead to reduce their energy costs and lower their carbon foot print.
With a long-term financial perspective, solutions which may seem inexpensive at first glance can actually prove to be a very costly archive. The best example of this is inexpensive RAID storage. The initial purchase cost may be relatively low, but after you factor in maintenance, backup overhead, frequent replacement, and very high power consumption, RAID systems are by far the most expensive archive alterative.
The amount of information flowing into your data centre can seem overwhelming, but tackling the problem head on by developing an archive strategy is your best defence. If your archiving policy is well designed and the correct technology selected, it can help you comply with regulations, manage corporate risk and make valuable information accessible in a way that could enhance your competitive advantage. By considering these five issues when developing an archive strategy, organisations are not drowning beneath the tide, but capitalising on the value of their information assets to improve the way they run their business.
Steve Tongish is marketing director, data archiving solutions specialist, Plasmon.
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