Archiving and Backup

A new study shows, that with all the current regulation and resulting compliance, archiving is not widespread. The study found that only a small number of respondents were required to archive required data because of regulatory legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX). The study was commissioned by Bridgehead Software, a developer and vendor of storage management software.

Bridgehead Software’s marketing vice president told Techworld, “This is interesting reading for the storage industry: despite the relentless use of the ‘compliance’ buzzword, it seems, out in the field, only a minority of IT directors feel affected by new regulations. One hopes that they believe compliance to be the by-product of good day-to-day data housekeeping.”

TechWeb defines the terms archive and backup similarly but discretely. The TechEncyclopedia reads, “Although archived files may remain on the same computer, the term implies data retention, and archived data is typically stored in a secondary location for backup and historical purposes.” “Storing data for backup and historical purposes” is the TechEncyclopedia definition for data retention. Backup is defined as data copied to a secondary storage medium.

Only publicly held companies are not required to comply with SOX. SOX requires sensitive financial and corporate data to be available for lengthy but specified periods of time. The study found that disaster recovery was an important reason to archive data over legal compliance.

By not archiving data properly, Bridgehead Software said that companies may be jeopardizing their ability to weather data failovers and remain compliant with SOX or other regulations. The study found that companies confused the backup and archiving of data. The study found that:

  • 23 percent of those participating did not archive.
  • Responding to a hypothetical task of retrieving a vital three-month old file:
  • 20 percent could not answer how long it would take to complete the task.
  • 10 percent answered more than a day.
  • 2 percent said more than a week.
  • 6 percent answered they would not be able to find the file.
  • 77 percent said that they did archive to some extent
  • 74 percent had a file archive solution
  • 66 percent said they had an e-mail archive
  • 29 percent perform manual archiving operations
  • 32 percent archive automatically using archiving software
  • 4 percent archive manually using archiving software
  • 35 percent archive manually using backup software.

Bridgehead Software’s marketing vice president told Techworld, “The complementary roles of archiving and backup are clearly misunderstood. The figures regarding the lost three month old file may seem extraordinary, but they exemplify how traditional file journaling during backup is not up to the truly complex task of managing offline files for long periods of time which archiving and media management technology address so well.”

Concerning media use, the study found 61 percent of those responding used tape and 22 percent used optical media. Hard disks, although vulnerable in the long term, are used by more than half of companies. The study found that many companies use more expensive storage methods instead of migrating older, but still important to retain, data to less expensive media alternatives.

Dianne McAdam, analyst at Data Mobility Group, told Techworld, “Despite the fact that many respondents mistakenly use the terms backup and archive interchangeably, this research shows there is a danger that many of the companies surveyed have neither the data protection nor the archiving systems in place that they believe they have. IT directors and administrators need to think outside the box and look at a comprehensive all round solution to data management to bring about corporate governance, compliance, and efficient storage management.”

Business data loses importance and value corporately with time but at different rates. Transactional data loses its value quickly and long-term archiving is a rare instance, according to SearchStorage.com. Offline tape storage is recommended.

A business’ determination of the time value of data depends on the answers to two questions actually, according to SearchStorage.com. The first question is, How often will this data be accessed once archived, and the second, how important is fast access to this data? The answers to these questions will help determine an archiving strategy.

Sun Microsystems advises that administrators should balance the cost of the storage method against the access speed found to be necessary after answering the two questions, according to SearchStorage.com.

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