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S3 Ltd

Storing Information for the Long Term

11/09/12 | in: Storage

We are frequently hearing from our customers that they are beginning to feel that it is becoming business critical to archive digital information. Whether it is to meet regulatory or compliance requirements or because information that is currently not required, still needs to be accessed in the future, or to free up space on primary storage as there is a large percentage of data that is not being used but taking up costly primary storage space or to alleviate challenges with backup and recovery, archiving can be required for a variety of reasons. However, ensuring archived information can be accessed when the need arises is key.

Conversations about long-term archiving usually begin with a storage device, however conversations should be about so much more than which storage device should be used. Addressing a long-term archive requires much planning and thought.

The technology discussions should include the storage devices, the media for storing the information and the storage systems’ key features. Storage systems that automatically and non-disruptively migrate data from one generation to another and from one tier of storage to another are key to long-term archiving. The information that is to maintained in an archive is another key consideration. You need to really understand what the data is, who owns it, what it means to the business and what the business value is. Maintaining information over time requires an application that can understand the information, storage devices that can read the information and a method for determining when the information no longer has value as part of a data retention policy. Storing information for years when it has no value or a regulation dictates it should no longer be stored makes no sense.

The ability to read the information at any given point in the future is another concern for long term archiving. If the application changes or is replaced, then the information stored in the archive must be converted if required so the new application understands it. If not, the information can no longer be accessed and has no value. Another consideration is where the information needs to be readable outside of the application. To support this, the information needs to be converted to a format that will persist for a long time, this could be XML or a PDF document for example.

Many organisations are struggling to cope with the increasing need to manage and retain large quantities of data. With capacity requirements outpacing the industry’s ability to deliver denser, cheaper storage and an -increasing demand on power, cooling and management time, we must look for a scalable, reliable and flexible solution. To achieve the ultimate requirement of making information available and readable whenever it’s required, you must address all of these requirements for long term storage of information.