The Failings of Legacy Archival Techniques

Companies sometimes assume that they must continue to use legacy archival techniques for retaining their critical intellectual property and business data. Based upon my experience, when developing new and more up-to-date archival strategies for organizations, tape and optical can no longer be viewed as the primary media for archival data. These technologies simply fail to meet today’s robust archiving needs. A disk-based archive as the primary store for archived data more appropriately reflects today’s enterprise requirements and those anticipated in the future. Not only does it ensure the integrity of their data, but it meets the growing requirements to have immediate access, search and retrieval of archived data.
Some major concerns companies should be aware of when archiving data to tape and optical include:

  • Physical media storage. Tape and optical media have very stringent requirements for physical storage. If these requirements are not followed to the letter, there is always the potential for the media, or portions of the media, to be damaged making a recovery of your data nearly impossible.
  • Physical media refreshes. I have seen companies require that their IT departments perform annual media refresh processes. These efforts require them to mount all archival media, recover the data to spinning disk, and the copy it back out to the new media to ensure that they have a solid recovery process in the future. Just one such refresh can negate whatever financial benefits companies initially obtained when they selected tape or optical.
  • Accidental or malicious human errors. Anytime a person is physically engaged in media movement there is a chance that they can drop the media causing damage. Even simply misplacing it can inhibit your ability to recover anything. Also, anyone with data center access and who has an axe to grind could easily walk into your media storage room, wreak havoc among stored media by taking it offsite or just dropping the media into the refuse on their way out the door.
  • Cost of the optical or tape media. Sure, the cost of a single optical platter or tape cartridge is relatively inexpensive. However, the longer you continue to record and retain that media, the more media you will need. Not only that, but the longer you retain that media, the larger your physical storage space must become to accommodate it.  
  • Staff overhead to manage the media processes. Good employees are among a company’s most valuable assets. However, dedicating staff to manage the movement and physical storage of media is probably not the most efficient use of their time. Storing archive data to disk eliminates this associated expense and enables them to be utilized for higher level IT functions.
  • Speed of retrieval concerns. When performing a recovery of your archival data from an optical or tape environment, it is an inherently slow process, even if the media resides in the optical jukebox or tape library. If it is not there, companies need to pull the media from storage lockers or an offsite vaulting vendor, which adds hours and potentially days to your recovery.

However, there is hope out there for those willing to change. Permabit’s Enterprise Archive System offers a disk-based approach to archiving that removes many of the failings of legacy methods. It ensures that not only is your archival data online and accessible in an open format (NFS, CIFS, WebDav), but that there is no real need to change how you archive today, other than moving to an online repository. Enterprise Archive offers many features that optical and tape media simply cannot offer (compression, deduplication, fast/online access and retrieval of your archival data, and Read/Write and WORM volume support just to name a few). A large percentage of optical customers originally purchased those solutions based in part that they provided WORMfunctionality. Now that there is a disk based alternative, customers have a true online product to choose from.
Permabit shatters the notion that using tape and optical archival systems are cheaper, as the price for their disk based solution(s) is fast approaching the price of these outdated methods. Its most important feature is that, at the end of the day, it provides companies a sense of security to know that their archival data resides on a system that is safe, secure and available short and long term.

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