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July 5, 2017

By 2020 the digital universe will reach 40 zettabytes (ZB), which is 40 trillion GB of data, or 5,200 GB of data for every person on Earth, forecasts an IDC study. This data explosion will lead to operational and storage issues impacting performance and maintenance of applications.

By simply archiving data stored in various applications, enterprises can reduce infrastructure cost, improve performance, meet regulatory compliance requirements, aid legal discovery, and maximize the business value that can be gained from their data.

Backup is not archival of data

There is a misconception amongst many that backup and archival of data are one and the same. Backup is recovery of data lost due to unintentional deletion, and includes operations on the entire set of application data rather than on selected data as is the case in archiving. You restore all your data back to your application. Can you then have back up as your archival strategy? This is not an option due to many challenges.

As data grows in volume in production systems, it becomes more and more difficult to take backups in a given time window. Sometimes it is simply not possible to perform backup operations, leading to business impact by reducing performance of your critical systems. There is no way you can view the backup data unless it is restored to applications. Unlike this, in archiving, you can have separate applications to view archived data, index data to perform searches, and build your analytics on top of archived data. Archiving also allows you to apply compliance policies to archived data.

Is archiving a bed of roses?

Although archiving sounds easy, it is not that easy a process.

It can be complex based on the data that you want to archive, complexity of the system, and compliance rules. Archiving requirements will vary based on your data type, which is again specific to industries. About 80% of data generated is a combination of unstructured and structured data. For unstructured data, since it is difficult to understand the content within the data files, it is a challenge to determine the archiving rules to apply. You require a large amount of metadata information for unstructured content.

When do you need to think of information archival?

Does your enterprise plan to expand its footprint through acquiring businesses? Obviously, you will be faced with the mammoth task of merging different systems and applications. Systems and applications may have duplicates, but eventually you need a single source of information. When you decide which system or application to retain and which one to decommission, you will start looking for options to preserve valuable data residing in these redundant systems. Archival becomes a necessity in such situations.

  • Are you looking to optimize your applications and minimize your licensing and other infrastructure costs? Take stock of your legacy applications that you may be using just because you need the valuable data residing in them. By opting for an information archival solution, you can archive and access this data on a need basis and decommission the legacy applications.
  • In your live ERP systems, database or content repositories, do you have data that is not needed on a day-to-day basis or static data, which is not accessed by your employees after a certain period? This data keeps accumulating in your live system and hampers system performance, resulting in more storage requirements and posing difficulties in backup operations. This is another use case where you will find information archival useful.

Some examples for archival include emails, chats, wikis, contracts, and policy documents.

Best practices and implementation considerations for information archival

With your enterprise information proliferating by the day, you will eventually run out of storage space. Therefore, do not forget to keep an eye on your information and take a timely decision to archive your valuable data. Effective reporting tools, analysis and policies for information life cycle management determine the success of your archival program. Follow these basic rules for a robust archival operation:

  • Centralize your storage system for easy and effective storage and retrieval. Reporting and analysis tools can provide insight into your storage usage and how you can avoid waste. To optimize storage, clean your data at a set frequency.
  • Carefully analyze the information life cycle in your enterprise to get a good insight into the management of information right from on-boarding through digital shredding at the end of retention period. You will also get an insight into what data to archive.
  • Create a consistent information retention policy. After you archive information, categorize archived data, and set up a retention period for each category.
  • Adhere to state and federal compliance regulations.
  • Plan to include access control and security in your overall archival strategy. Security breaches or loss of relevant data can seriously damage your companys reputation. Taking proactive steps to prevent these occurrences is critical to your company’s ongoing success.
  • Archived information is of no use if it is not available at the right time to the right people. Finding a document out of billions of records can be a difficult task. Define the search criteria and parameters while designing an archival platform.

There is no one size fits all solution, when it comes to determining an archival strategy for an enterprise. With various archival products available in the market, carefully evaluate your business needs before you choose one.

To understand more about your archival needs and arrive at a bespoke solution, meet us at Expo Meeting Room 5, OpenText Enterprise World 2017, July 10-13, 2017, Toronto Convention Center, Toronto, Canada.

Vipul leads the Documentum center of excellence. He has about sixteen years of IT experience with focus on development and consulting in Enterprise Content Management, Document management, and Document Automation. His responsibilities include support for presales, delivery, solutioning, and competency building in Documentum and related ECM technologies.


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