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Why Active Archiving is a Hot Concept in Storage Today

Reading Time: 2 minutes

May 19, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

The 2021 Active Archive Alliance annual market report has just been released, entitled “Saved by the Data. Active Archive Leads the Way in a Mid-Pandemic World”.

Certainly, the COVID pandemic was a shock to many companies and put tremendous strain on operations, revenue, and profit. But those companies who had already implemented a sensible active archive strategy were at a competitive advantage thanks to their ability to intelligently manage access to their data.

I think active archiving, the practice of keeping data online all the time and easily accessible to users, is a hot concept in storage right now because it is really about optimization – getting the right data in the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost.

We know that IT budgets are not keeping up with the relentless growth of data. We also know that 60% to 80% of data quickly becomes archival. Typically after 30, 60, or 90 days, files become static and the frequency of access drops off. So why keep that kind of data on expensive primary storage?

Why not let intelligent data management software that is typical of an active archive solution move that data by user-defined policy from high performance, expensive tiers, to lower performance but more cost-effective tiers like economy disk or tape systems, or even cloud? All while maintaining transparent access for users.

We know that the value of data is increasing, retention periods are getting longer, and users want to maintain ready access to their data without IT staff intervention. But we also need to worry about the bottom line, about efficiency, compliance, sustainability, and cybersecurity! Active archiving provides the right solutions to these worries and that’s why it is such a hot concept in storage today.

But enough said, read the full report here and check out what Alliance members had to say in their related virtual conference.

 

 

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Why are Two Thirds of Organizations Failing to Backup and Archive Correctly?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

September 9, 2020

By Rich Gadomski, Tape Evangelist, Fujifilm Recording Media, U.S.A., Inc.

You would think, by now, that backup best practices would have moved into the same category as filling up the tank before a long drive or looking each way before crossing the street. But a new study indicates that most organizations continue to get it fundamentally wrong. How? By continuing to backup long-inactive data that should have been archived instead of remaining in the backup schedule.

The 2020 Active Archive Alliance survey found that 66% of respondents were still using backup systems to store archive data. What’s wrong with that?

  • It greatly lengthens backup windows: Repeatedly backing up unchanging archive data wastes storage resources and adds time to the backup process
  • As data sets grow, a failure to distinguish between backup and archiving becomes increasingly expensive in terms of disk space
  • Even those offloading backups to cheap cloud resources are still running up a large bill over time by unnecessarily backing up cold data
  • Archiving, on the other hand, frees up expensive capacity by moving less frequently used data to more cost-effective storage locations.


Clearing Up Backup Confusions

One of the underlying reasons for this is a confusion between backup and archiving. Backup provides a copy of organizational data for use in recovery from a data loss incident, cyberattack or disaster. These days, it is generally copied onto disk or tape and either retained there or relayed to the cloud. A key point is that backup only copies data, leaving the source data in place. It is also used to restore lost or deleted files rapidly.

Archiving is a different concept entirely. Rather than copying data, it moves data classed as inactive to a more cost-effective tier of storage such as economy disk or tape. This frees up space on higher-tier storage systems such as fast disk or flash. In addition, it shortens the backup window and offers permanent and long-term protection from modification or deletion of data.

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It’s Time to Wake up and Smell the Tape!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Rich Gadomski

I just spent a full day at a meeting of the Active Archive Alliance and as I was flying home it occurred to me that it’s time for data storage managers to rise up from the sleepy status quo of buying more disk arrays to address runaway data growth problems. It’s time to wake up and smell the sweet aroma of freshly made modern data tape (sort of like that new car smell if you don’t know).

Why do that you ask? Because best practices and undeniable facts say so. Consider the following:

Data goes through a lifecycle from hot to cold, that is to say from a period of active use to a period of inactivity. This can happen in as little as 30 days or less.

Inactive data should not stay on primary storage devices. It takes up space on expensive storage media, consumes more energy and adds to the backup burden.

What to do? Delete it? You probably can’t get permission to delete it, all data is now potentially valuable with new artificial intelligence (AI) and analytic tools emerging to derive value from that data. But you can move it and stop copying it!

Where do you move it to? Put it in an active archive consisting of low cost disk cache and even lower cost long term storage like a high density automated tape library. To store one petabyte of data for 10 years in a tape library will cost around $220,000 depending on your TCO variables. Alternatively, you could spend $900,000 on HDD and around $1,300,000 for cloud. Need more capacity? Tape libraries easily scale by adding more slots and tapes. You can export full tapes and plug new ones in. Move the full tapes offsite and get the benefit of air gap since the data is physically isolated from other networks. At least you know that data can’t be accessed and held for ransom.

Getting end user access requests for that data all of a sudden? Move it back to disk cache and serve it from there. When done, move it back to the tape library. Tape is super-fast, 360 MB a second and file access is made easier and faster with LTFS.

How to orchestrate all this? Intelligent data management solutions help move data automatically. Leverage metadata and AI tools to analyze files and move them off primary storage if they don’t belong there.

Does this sound like a tiered storage strategy? It is and it’s also known as an active archive. This is a best practice used by the biggest and most advanced data generating companies in the industry. If it works for them, it will work for you too.

There’s a lot of hype in the storage industry with lots of folks looking for new, better ways to do things. But some things are tried and true, like tape, with the benefits of constantly evolving capacities, performance, reliability and long term archivability. So wake up and smell the tape…put your data where it belongs and get on with your day!

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