Archiving is evolving: Here are the functionalities every enterprise should have

As 2016 gets rolling, a New Year’s resolution for enterprises should be to re-evaluate their approach to archiving data by taking advantage of cloud architectures and more intelligent systems, according to one industry observer.

Historically, archiving information has been about indiscriminately storing data in “dumb” storage, said James Haight, analyst with Blue Hill Research, in a recent webinar.

“The analog equivalent might be having a filing cabinet where you are just indiscriminately stuffing a whole bunch of files,” he said. “You know when the day comes that you need it, you can hire enough interns and give them enough coffee to go and find exactly what you need. But there’s got to be a better way to do it.”

And the modern data environment is driving the need for enterprises to change their approach, said Haight; as remote employees are proliferating, there are multiple devices per user and more application data is being placed in the cloud.

“These trends are old hat,” he said, but they raise a whole host of new risks and considerations that must be accounted for when adopting new approaches and technologies for archiving.

David Houlihan, principal analyst at Blue Hill Research, said organizations are looking at new ways of archiving data because existing processes are inefficient and cumbersome. In addition, there is no secure, centralized and efficient environment for the mobile workforce. Many organizations have been relying on ad hoc, multi-custodian management approaches and have a lack of visibility into data to support compliance and governance activities.

Modern archiving has four key areas of functionality: cloud and remote user continuity, metadata indexing and search, automated data compliance awareness, and data policy management. Haight said the vendors that are innovating in the archiving space have all four of these functionalities, and the second one is particularly critical as it moves enterprises beyond blindly storing files.

“You’re adding a level of intelligence,” he said. “You can understand what you are actually putting in your archive and run analysis on top of that.”

Houlihan said it needs to be easier for all workers to put data into an archive and get data out on multiple devices without losing any time recreating information or searching for it.

Haight said the cloud and a number of different applications have spurred an evolution of data archiving, both for consumers and enterprises. “When you have these capabilities and you can rethink what you can you can do, can transform and reimagine what the archive is. You have the ability to bring data management to another level.”

This includes bringing in additional governance and risk management that was previously unavailable. Enterprises can also reap some broader benefits by adopting more intelligent archiving systems, said Haight, including continuity of data access. “When you centralize your data, you allow your workforce to access data any way that they need to without any interruptions.”

One of the frequently overlooked benefits, he added, is the reduction in data storage requirements, noting that often multiple users are backing up the exact same file twice. This duplication can be identified with intelligent archiving.

“It’s more efficient to archive once and disseminate as needed,” Haight said. “There’s some serious implications for storage capacity, efficiency and bandwidth issues.”

Houlihan said enterprises can see a reduction in how much time they are managing data with a modern archiving approach.

When enterprises have a better understanding of what they are archiving and how, it becomes easier to set up systems in the background to support automated compliance and litigation readiness.

“Litigation is something people don’t understand and they’re very scared of,” said Haight, “but when the time comes and you need to get ready for it, there’s a whole host of things you can do to make that process easier, less time consuming and less costly.”

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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