Data Archiving Strategy
With the increasing connectivity of homes, phones and workplaces, data production is expected to reach previously unimaginable levels. By one estimate, global data production will reach 40 trillion gigabytes by 2020. That’s just one reason driving MSPs to develop a data archiving strategy for their clients.
The Importance of Data Management
From video files to XML-application data, organizations are finding themselves with dwindling storage, as both structured and unstructured data eat into their capacity. Data growth isn’t only an issue for storage.
Booming data can bog down a network’s performance, according to data experts. Terabyte-sized databases can put a drain on the response time of applications. And with the growth of data, accessing storage subsystems can be even more delayed.
Security is also a concern. For organizations that store personally identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers or financial records, big data presents a very real risk. By keeping this data in production databases, organizations increase their risk of a breach — a nightmare scenario among organizational leaders and IT professionals alike.
Finally, inactive data takes a toll on computing power. This might require that an organization invest more money in CPUs or RAM, an unhappy, additional financial burden.
The Archiving Response
These costs have driven organizations to research a data archiving strategy.
So, what is archiving? To begin with, it’s distinct from a backup.
Backups involve making periodic copies of data and storing these copies for short amounts of time. This timeframe may be a matter of weeks. Soon, a newer backup may be made that replaces the former backup.
Backups allow organizations to prepare for disasters. Hard drives can die. Employees can execute malware. And offices can be destroyed by natural disasters. Disasters have many faces as well as many sizes. But organizations know they need to be able to recover from a data disaster. Backups allow them to do so.
Backups are short-term solutions, serving as a linchpin of disaster recovery. Archiving takes a longer-term approach.
Archiving moves infrequently accessed data away from primary storage, and onto low-cost, high-capacity disk storage, including offline and offsite disk storage. In this way, archiving allows organizations to store data beyond a limited timeframe. Employees may access older files without having to store them on primary servers.
Why is Data Archiving Important?
Archiving offers a host of benefits to organizations.
Archiving frees up resources. Experts agree that on primary storage devices, roughly 75 percent of the stored data hasn't been accessed for at least a year. Most data lies dormant. Despite its inactivity, this data still eats up precious storage. And as mentioned above, even inactive data can bog down servers and applications.
Archiving is more economical, too. For the most part, archiving’s purpose is to drive down costs. These costs can be measured in dollars per gigabyte of stored data. With archiving, organizations can eliminate terabytes — or more — of data from expensive primary storage. Archiving can also reduce the size of backups since there’s no reason to back up unchanged files repeatedly.
Archiving defends against a brain drain. On average, employees remain with their employers for 4.6 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s much shorter than the lifespan of most firms. With employees moving between jobs, organizations face a challenge as departing employees leave with institutional knowledge. Archiving addresses this issue. Archived documents preserve institutional knowledge, without bogging down shared networks.
Archiving allows organizations to meet legal requirements. With the advent of big data, legislators have grown increasingly strict about record keeping. Under laws such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), organizations must preserve sensitive data for several years, depending on the type of data.
The legal requirements aren’t limited to those two laws, though. Some 15,000 regulations in the U.S. touch on data storage and potentially affect businesses. Additionally, organizations must often retain records in the event of a court case. Organizations may be required to hand over records in a lawsuit. But if those records have been lost or destroyed, an organization can face financial penalties and even criminal penalties.
How to Develop a Strong Data Archiving Strategy
Data archiving requires thoughtful, deliberate planning. What goes into this?
First, MSPs must figure out how long to retain archived data. Not all data is equal, nor are all legal requirements the same. MSPs should discuss data retention with an organization’s legal counsel to figure out which data needs to be stored for how long.
This discussion should also take place with organizational members — especially those who are responsible for the data. Those parties may be uncertain about their regulatory requirements. In which case, MSPs may opt to keep data archived indefinitely.
While working on a data archiving strategy, MSPs must also gain clarity about the scope of their networks’ data. It’s important to have a full grasp of application data, workstation data, metadata and any other inactive data sources that may require archiving.
MSPs should also work with organizational staff to define archiving policies. Beyond legal requirements, how long should certain data be preserved? What may its future value be? And similarly, at what point may archived data be deleted? Just like primary storage data, archived data can build up, requiring greater and greater oversight.
Another key consideration is technology. IT professionals must decide whether to construct an archiving solution, or whether to outsource the effort to a third-party vendor. Time is a major consideration here. Building a solution can take upwards of nine months. A self-made solution can also require staff attention and maintenance, and may increase the risk of data corruption.
For these reasons, experts recommend that organizations rely on a third-party solution. Third-party vendors offer easier, more scalable solutions, experts say. Vendor solutions also provide compliance reports, greater amounts of automation and higher performance.
MSPs should also consider the thorny issue of access. Archived data, just like primary-storage data, requires protection from unauthorized users.
Shopping for a Solution
How should MSPs approach the crowded marketplace for third-party solutions? It’s simple. Take a look at the preferred, proven solution that other MSPs continue to praise.
That’s SolarWinds MSP's (formerly LOGICnow) MSP Backup & Recovery. With our data archiving solution, you get the security and ease of cloud-based storage with the flexibility to set custom retention policies.
Our benefits begin with data itself, and include:
- Cross-platform support. Archive data from Windows, Mac OS X, Unix, Windows Server, VMware and Hyper-V.
- Support across data types. Archive your application data from MySQL, Oracle, Exchange, SQL Server and Sharepoint.
- Granular data selection. Want to archive a folder? A file? An application or a complete server? SolarWinds MSP gives you the ability to archive exactly the data you need.
Another reason MSPs love us: customization. With MSP Backup & Recovery, you can take control of your archiving and meet the specific needs of your clients. Features include:
- Custom retention periods. Set specific retention timeframes for data archiving, extending them as long as you need.
- Quick access. Store data both locally and in the cloud — and get you access to data when you need it.
- Centralized monitoring. Maintain your archives through our elegant, simple web console. Receive instant alerts about the status of your jobs.
Here’s the kicker. With SolarWinds MSP, MSPs get unsurpassed security so your customers' archived data will never be breached. Our security includes:
- Advanced encryption. Your data remains encrypted — whether in transit or at rest — via private-key encryption. Our encryption relies on AES 128-bit, AES 256-bit and 448-bit Blowfish.
- Private keys. Archive keys are only accessible by the user.
- Secure data centers. Our seven secure data centers, distributed across the globe, are all either SSAE-Compliant or ISO-certified and have 24/7 physical security. The benefit to you: a 99.999 percent uptime guarantee.
Preparing for Disasters
Looking for a more comprehensive backup solution? SolarWinds MSP’s data archiving is part of our larger backup & disaster recovery platform. Our industry-leading solution that keeps networks up and running whether hackers or natural disasters strike.
It offers, among other benefits:
- Continuous recovery. With True Delta that backs up data at the block level, you benefit from lightweight backups — and lightning-fast recoveries.
- Customizable file versioning. Customize the number of file versions you’ll retain for specific files, ensuring you’ll never depend on just a single version.
- Block-level changes for large files. Back up block-level changes in database files and virtual machines, which vastly accelerates the backup process.
- Hybrid cloud recovery. SolarWinds MSP protects your data by keeping perfectly synced backups in the cloud and in your shop.
The Solution for MSPs
With our secure and rapid archiving, it’s no surprise that 98 percent of MSPs retain clients when they use SolarWinds MSP. We built our platform with your needs in mind.
Want to get started today with your data archiving strategy? You can take our solution for a test drive with a no-obligation, 30-day trial.
About SolarWinds MSP
SolarWind MSP (formerly LOGICnow) delivers the only 100% SaaS, fully cloud-based IT service management (ITSM) platform, backed by collective intelligence and the highest levels of layered security. SolarWinds MSP’s products including Risk Intelligence, Remote Management, Backup & Disaster Recovery, Mail and Service Desk – comprise the market’s most widely trusted integrated solution.
Deployed on millions of endpoints across hundreds of thousands of networks, the platform has the industry vision to define and deliver the future of the market. SolarWinds MSP provides the most comprehensive IT security available as well as LOGICcards, the first ever IT notification feature powered by prescriptive analytics and machine learning.
SolarWinds MSP’s passion is helping IT professionals secure and manage their systems and data through actionable insights, rewriting the rules of IT.
For more information, visit www.logicnow.com.
Computer World: http://www.computerworld.com/article/2556904/data-center/backup-vs--archiving--it-pays-to-know-the-difference.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm
Computer Weekly: http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Storage-retrieval-strategies-Retrieving-data-from-archives
The Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/02/an_archive_is_a_strategy_not_a_thing/