Difference Between Archive and Backup
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) who want to offer archive and backup offerings to their clients should first be clear about the differences and intended objectives of these activities. Since both terms involve the retention of data, they often are used synonymously in casual conversation. The fact is that they are different and have their own business purposes.
An archive refers to data that is no longer being used and has been designated to be moved to another location for long-term retention. According to ComputerWeekly, data archives are “intended as a repository for data that needs to be stored for periods that may extend to decades.” Because archived data has no relevance to a business’ current operations, there are point-in-time considerations about having to restore this information.
Unlike archived data, which moves information from one location to another, a backup operation copies (or duplicates) data to a safe repository while the original data remains at its current location. The stored data can then be recovered if the original becomes lost, corrupt or otherwise unavailable. A data backup can be thought of as an insurance policy for recovering data to a certain point in time.
Key Considerations for Archiving Data
Because data archives and backups are designed to meet different business objectives, carefully consider your clients’ requirements to choose the appropriate archive and backup solutions that align with their needs.
Data Archive Considerations
The key reason for having a data archive is for long-term retention of information that is no longer needed on a day-to-day basis in a production environment. Certain regulatory agencies, for example, require information to be retained for a certain number of years. Some may also require Write Once Read Many (WORM) technology to ensure that data cannot be changed after it is stored in the archive.
Companies that are required to meet with regulatory standards such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, NERC CIP and SOX often are required to archive data for a certain period of time in order to maintain compliance. As a result, the tool you use to archive data must preserve the integrity of the information throughout the life of the archive.
Sometimes, companies will receive medical, legal or other requests that will require them to parse through their data archives, looking for certain files, records or other data. While these requests usually are not time-sensitive, they can consume significant amounts of time. Therefore, your archive tool of choice should allow you to parse through archived data to find specific files in an efficient way.
Think about how you search for a particular email from months ago amid all the old emails in your inbox. Instead of hunting and pecking through the individual messages, you filter your search using keywords and filters to target the email of interest. Looking for the same capabilities in your archive tool will add an added data archive service that you can offer to clients.
Statistics show that the production data of most companies is growing at roughly 20% to 50% every year. From this number, you can assume that the archive data for your clients will grow at least this much on a yearly basis.
As a business grows over time, the amount of data designated for archiving is also growing. Clients that experience this growth are looking for ways to cope with this colossal avalanche of content. Tossing more and more expensive storage arrays at this challenge is not a cost-effective answer. Not only are there hardware expenses to consider, but the administrative costs of having personnel to manage the arrays, along with the added power costs to run the hardware, can become a major capital expense (CAPEX).
Presenting your data archive services can help clients keep pace with escalating volumes of archived data now and in the future. Look for tools that offer compression, bandwidth and other features that can be used to accelerate archive operations.
Archived data will most likely include sensitive information. For this reason, the archive tool should encrypt the data as it’s being archived. Encryption should be maintained even after the data has been archived to ensure that its contents are safeguarded against unauthorized access.
Typically, archive data solutions are tightly coupled with particular operating systems. To offer archive services to the broadest range of clients, look for a solution that can interoperate with, and archive data in, physical, virtualized and cloud environments alike. This includes Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, all common UNIX and Linux environments, VMware and other popular operating systems.
The dynamic nature of technology means that newer generations of an application can no longer access aging archived data. Although many software vendors try to maintain some form of backward compatibility with their older applications, aging archived data will eventually reach the point where it can no longer be accessed using the latest release of the application that created them. For this reason, look for an archive solution that can convert legacy data to a generally accepted format such as Portable Document Format (PDF).
Key Considerations for Backing Up Data
The key differentiator between backed up and archived data is that the former is more than just retaining data. It's also about the ability to recovery the backed-up data in case a company’s copy becomes lost, corrupt or unavailable due to a failed hard drive, human error or natural disaster.
The tool should offer the ability to back up and restore data in the shortest window, so that companies can resume business operations as quickly as possible. For redundancy, consider solutions that allow data to be backed up to local servers, remote offsite data centers or both. That way, if one repository in unavailable, there are others from which you can recover the backed-up data.
When MSPs can offer backup solutions that can quickly restore data, applications databases and operating systems, clients have a business-continuity strategy that provides a leg up on the competition while protecting their critical data — no matter what.
MAX Backup from SolarWinds MSP (Formerly LOGICnow)
MAX Backup from SolarWinds MSP provides unparalleled data archiving, back up and recovery features that make it easy for MSPs to sell these services to clients at a favorable selling point.
With a host of easy-to-use features tailored for today’s business climate, you can present these services as more of an investment rather than a cost, thereby adding an entirely new value and revenue stream to your current offerings. In addition to improving perceived value with current and potential clients, this approach allows you to increase your bottom line
The following key features have been designed to aid your ability to resell MAX Backup’s capabilities to clients:
- Automation: Archive and backup operations can be scheduled to run automatically at the days and times that suit your clients.
- Back up options. SolarWinds MSP gives MSPs the option to back up client data to one of our data centers or their own. Alternatively, MSPs can opt to back up data to their own data center by licensing SolarWinds MSP's online backup software.
- All SolarWinds MSP data centers deliver round-the-clock, bullet-proof physical security, deliver true 99.999% uptime, and meet the following SSAE or ISO regulations: ISO 9001-14001-27001-50001, OHSAS 18801, PCI DSS, and Chapter 9-compliant SSAE16 SOC1.
- Backups can be performed at the file, application, or machine level. This makes it fast, easy and convenient to back up single files, databases and applications, or entire servers.
- Smallest back-up windows in the industry. Client-side compression and cabinet caching features reduce bandwidth loads, file capacities, and CPU overhead. Concerns over using excessive bandwidth and CPU resources for conducting daily backups are a thing of the past.
- Unique True Delta Technology. True Delta Technology shrinks backup volume capacities and accelerates upload times. Incremental backups copy only data that changed since the previous job was run, eliminating the need to send entire documents and files with every backup.
- Features like Deep Deduplication, Altered Data Tracking, and WAN Optimization ensure that backups do not impede client workflows.
- No Internet connection required. Clients that have spotty or no Internet connection can still secure their data using SolarWinds MSP's hybrid-cloud platform to back up data to local storage.
- Private key encryption protects data in transit from the client site. But the protection doesn’t stop there, as the data resting at the repository remains protected. Only the client, who knows the private key, can unlock the protected data.
- With our pay-per-Gbyte-per-month model, MSPs pay only for the storage amount they consume — no more. This cost savings can be passed along to your clients to make your offerings even more appealing. Best of all, there are no concealed upgrade costs or other hidden fees to worry about. You and your clients can even try our products for 30 days free with absolutely no obligation.
Learn more about MAX Backup from SolarWinds MSP, and try a free trial today.