Digital Preservation: What’s the Most Cost-Effective Way to Preserve Data?

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Row of data servers

Businesses of every size and type generate and collect enormous amounts of data. And there’s no getting around the fact that storing all that data is expensive. But many of the costs associated with data storage are simply unnecessarily high — particularly when it comes to cold data.

In business terms, choosing the best data storage method amounts to determining which method offers the best return on investment. The problem is the confusion surrounding the various data types and how to manage and store them. Put simply, many organizations haven’t established a data management strategy.

In this article, we’ll examine the data preservation area of data management. While it’s only one part of your business’s larger data strategy, as you’ll see, the wrong approach has a significant impact on a business’s bottom line.

From Hot to Cold

Person fixing a computer

In data storage, one of the most important differences in data types is between what’s referred to as hot and cold data. Data storage services often use this temperature analogy to describe their service tiers in terms of performance. The analogy hearkens back to the early days of computing, where internal hard drives were near the “hot” computer circuitry while external drives were located further away.

While hot and cold data aren’t standardized technical terms, the theme is common across the storage industry, and understanding it is key to developing a cost-effective strategy for data preservation.

Hot data storage refers to high-performance storage that’s readily accessible. This is the storage that people read and write to on a regular basis. Some examples of hot data storage include:

  • The solid-state drive in your personal computer
  • The drives in a data center that hold information for a website
  • The servers your company uses to share and collaborate on files

On the other hand, cold storage refers to storage mediums with much slower performance and access requirements. Data kept in cold storage is typically transferred, saved and rarely accessed. The data kept in cold storage is often archival in nature. It can be large quantities of research data, critical business information that requires backup and redundancy, or records an organization needs to retain for legal or regulatory reasons.

Given the characteristics, the technologies powering hot and cold storage methods have significant cost differences. Prices vary, but hot storage can cost four times as much as cold storage. If your objective is data preservation, high-performance data storage is not the solution.

Where and How to Preserve Data

Data backup in progress

With an understanding of hot and cold data in mind, next comes where and how to store data. While there are a myriad of options, these options fit into two categories: on-premises storage or cloud storage services. Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks, and deciding which one is right for an organization is a complex, if not daunting, task.

Nearly every organization uses cloud services in some form or another. Cloud computing has brought new and surprising innovations, with many still to come. But the promises of the affordability of cloud solutions might have been a little inflated. More than a third of all enterprises spend more than $12 million every year implementing cloud solutions.

In most applications where cloud storage excels, performance is the determining factor. And while there are more affordable cloud storage services for archival purposes, these services charge access fees when you need to access your data, which can drive up costs.

Finally, cloud services are worrying where security is concerned. When an organization has data stored on infrastructure outside its control, securing that information is infinitely more complex. And even though cloud security has improved considerably, data breaches are still common. For this reason alone, many businesses dealing with sensitive data choose to preserve data on their own infrastructure.

When an organization has robust security policies in place, there’s simply no contest: Data is more secure on-premises.

A Hybrid Approach to Data Storage and Preservation

Man working on computer at office desk

For most businesses, a hybrid cloud approach for data management is the most practical solution in terms of cost and performance. Cloud storage isn’t cheap, but the low barrier to entry, sheer scalability and immense integration capabilities ensure it will play an integral role in most businesses’ IT architecture.

Meanwhile, for organizations with vast amounts of archival data in which preservation and security are paramount, on-premises infrastructure is the smart choice. Of the many options available, tape storage has significant benefits compared to other storage mediums for cold data preservation.

In the realm of affordability, tape storage has the lowest cost per gigabyte and is far more reliable than disk-based drives, meaning fewer bit errors. Over a 5- and 10-year period, an automated tape-based archival system can save organizations from 49% to 86% over a disk-based system. Cloud-based solutions don’t compare, either. Even with minimal retrieval on a cloud cold storage service, tape still equates to savings of more than 40%.

If you’d like to see the numbers for yourself, this free online tool, developed by storage economics expert Brad Johns Consulting, can show you exactly how much tape can save on your business’ data management.

Affordability aside, an automated tape system improves security significantly. One of its biggest benefits is that it can be leveraged for off-site cold storage — an air gap between an organization’s data and the rest of the world. Tape’s inherent mobility means the chances of a business’ mission-critical data being compromised are almost zero.

Preserve Your Data With Object Archive

Team of employees working on their computers

Recognizing a hybrid future where organizations rely on a combination of cloud services and private infrastructure, FUJIFILM developed Object Archive to bridge the gap between secure cold storage and cloud data. Compatibility with Amazon S3’s API means Object Archive fits neatly into existing workflows while providing a means to migrate large quantities of cold but valuable data to tape seamlessly, while avoiding the unnecessary expense of disk based object storage.

Automated tape solutions coupled with FUJIFILM’s Object Archive provide businesses with a powerful, environmentally-friendly solution that’s infinitely scalable. Helping customers preserve and protect their data — this is FUJIFILM’s mission.

Get started with a free trial of Object Archive today.

Rich Gadomski

Head of Tape Evangelism

As Head of Tape Evangelism for FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc., Rich is responsible for driving industry awareness and end user understanding of the purpose and value proposition of modern tape technology. Rich joined Fujifilm in 2003 as Director of Product Management, Computer Products Division, where he oversaw marketing of optical, magnetic, and flash storage products. Previously Rich held the position of Vice President of Marketing, Commercial Products, where he was responsible for the marketing of data storage products, value added services and solutions. Rich has more than 30 years of experience in the data storage industry. Before joining Fujifilm, Rich was Director of Marketing for Maxell Corp. of America where he was responsible for the marketing of data storage products. Prior to that, Rich worked for the Recording Media Products Division of Sony Electronics. Rich participates in several industry trade associations including the Active Archive Alliance, the Linear Tape-Open Consortium (LTO) and the Tape Storage Council. Rich also manages Fujifilm’s annual Global IT Executive Summit. Rich holds a BA from the University of Richmond and an MBA from Fordham University. FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc., is the leading manufacturer of commercial data tape products for enterprise and midrange backup and archival applications and provides long term data storage products and software through its FUJIFILM Data Management Solutions team.