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Archive redefined

When the word “archive” is used in conversations about storing data, it brings up preconceptions depending on the individuals and their roles in IT. The most common thought is that an archive is where backup data goes, and the term is associated with backup software and tape. The other thought is that an archive is for data that is not needed anymore and is the place where data goes to die.

These preconceptions are unfortunate and wrong. They foster resistance to implementing or using an archive, and often lead to dismissal of the concept. They also lead to relegating an archive to usage by those who manage the backup process.

Certainly, this limits the flexibility for IT usage and leads business owners  believing that archive means a different type of access or unacceptable delay in getting access to their information. This attitude does not allow for using an archive as another tier of storage.

These concepts of archiving mistakenly assign a fixed value on the data stored.  But the value of data changes. It does not just diminish with time, but may increase in importance. Ultimately, these preconceptions lead to treating the archive as a location for abandoned data.

The term “archive” is both a verb and noun. The noun part – dealing with location – needs to be redefined.  Preconceptions are difficult to counter and this has led to use of a new term – “content repository.” That term connotes different types of usage, but mainly it is used to describe another tier of storage with a different cost structure that still provides online access expected by business owners. The content repository can serve as an archive for backup data, as a secondary storage location, and as what is described by some as an “online archive.”

It is difficult to change the preconceptions of what an archive is. The term needs to be redefined to reflect the economic value an online archive can provide. The easiest path may be to start a new discussion about a content repository and explain the usage in each case.

(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).

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