Survey: Regulations take back seat in managing storage

Data growth and disaster recovery/business continuity (DR/BC) are driving archive planning much more than regulatory compliance.

The second annual Bridgehead Software information lifecycle management audit showed that little more than half the respondents — 58 percent — see regulatory compliance as the main driver. That’s compared to the main drivers: data growth — 62 percent — and DR/BC — 70 percent.

Average primary storage data volumes are growing with most growth at the top end. The average primary storage volume is just over 1TB and the U.K. and more than 2TB in the U.S. Compared to last year an additional 7 percent of respondents reported 5TB-plus volumes and 7 percent fewer reported volumes less than 5TB. An additional 60 percent of respondents reported volumes of 15TB-plus, up from 7 percent last year to 11 percent this year.

Bridgehead CEO Tony Cotterill speculates that these rises may be behind the uprating of data growth as an archive planning driver.

He is concerned about the use of tape for archiving, particularly in the U.S. where 72 percent of respondents, up 16 percent from last year, cite its use for archiving. In the U.K. tape use is 1 percent down at 72 percent.

Cotterill asserts that backup, the inevitable feeder of data to tape, is the wrong choice for archiving: “While the removability and relatively long lifecycle of tape lends itself to data archiving, the use of backup software is a major mismatch.”

“Backup simply doesn’t have the granular data management functionality to address compliant data-level retention, destruction, access control, or authentication needs over long periods. Most users would agree that simply finding and restoring data after a few months is onerous and often unfeasible with backup software and that is one of the basic functions of a good archive tool.”

Cotterill said that archiving and backup address different business problems: “The purpose of backup is to create copies of the online environment that can be recovered rapidly in the event of failure or data loss. Backup is oriented towards storing and moving large amounts of data and it does not purport to make data in backup savesets immediately available. The purpose of archiving is to provide an alternate, secure place for data that must be kept for long periods of time.” Archive software gives the ability to retrieve data immediately for compliance and regulatory purposes.

The short answer is to use backup for business continuity — restoring lost and deleted files — and archive software for compliance and long-term data storage. One size does not fit all.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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