Data archiving in IT has never been sexy. Generally, it's considered the concern of museums and academics, organisations that are typically funded differently than for-profit businesses and that perceive value in old material.

That's one way of saying that hardly anyone enters the study of computer technology or computer science with the goal of becoming a data archivist. In just about every aspect of computing, the emphasis is on the here and now -- doing things faster, more efficiently and with greater agility than in the past. Data that is no longer referenced with any frequency, tends to fall off the radar. The only concern is that it not be deleted, because that could have devastating consequences. However, data archiving has many benefits to offer besides regulatory compliance and historical preservation.

Based on a study of more than 3,000 corporate storage infrastructures, as much as 40% of the capacity of every disk drive spinning in a company is occupied by data that hasn't been referenced in the last month, six months or one year. Yet considerable power is supplied to each drive every second to keep them spinning. When drives fail, they're replaced and rewritten with the same data from backups or as part of a RAID set rebuild. That means we are wasting both electrical power (to energise drives and bleed off the heat they generate) and staff time (to confirm data, drive integrity and perform periodic maintenance), while building more capacity into our infrastructure to store new data year after year.

Then there's the issue of productivity. It may seem inconsequential that a search for a string of words takes a few milliseconds longer as you clot up your file systems with more data, but multiply that by the number of searches conducted every day by all your employees, customers, and others in and outside of your firm who have permission to scan your data. You're talking about a lot of wasted time searching through the 40% of your data that's included in search results only because it's physically recorded in and around active data.

The business-value case for data archiving, based on cost containment (archive data to reduce the urgency to buy more storage capacity), risk reduction (archive data to ensure regulatory compliance) and improved productivity (archive data to get it out of the way of searches, report generation, backups and so on), is very persuasive, whether you believe the data has historical merit or not. As simple as this business case may be to understand and appreciate, archiving itself remains a mystery to many IT -employees. There are myriad issues of methodology and technology to parse when you develop a vision for your archive system and a strategy for bringing it to bear on your current infrastructure.

Recall is able to assist companies in their assessment of active and archive data within their IT infrastructure and to evaluate the costs and benefits of disk and tape storage in specific cases.


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