Best Practices: The ultimate archiving challenge


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What you can do now
For users, it's time to get your house in order. This means understanding requirements, completing a cost/risk analysis, establishing policies, and developing procedures to classify and manage data at a high level.

Here are a few items to consider:

  • Understand current policies and practices regarding paper records. Inevitably, there will be differences between paper and electronic data retention, but this is often a useful place to start.
  • Develop a retrieval/recovery policy before or in conjunction with retention; e.g., who needs to search, extract and delete, as well as policies for use and response times.
  • Determine associated data-preservation policy requirements, such as immutability, authentication and security.
  • Before investing in technology, develop a policy-driven reference architecture that addresses requirements for ingestion, access, retention, retrieval, security, etc. The more specific you are with vendors, the better your solution will be.
  • Don't always assume that you need WORM. Understanding the regulatory requirements in this area can save money and future headaches.
  • Look for data pruning opportunities. The "archive everything" approach will be unsustainable and costly. Effort invested here will ultimately play an enormous role in

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  • the future usefulness of archived data and the cost to maintain it.
  • Push your vendors to support and adopt archiving standards. In product RFPs, have them describe how the data will be retrieved and presented in five years, 10 years and 25 years. This will be fun, if not educational.
When you consider storage's ever-increasing drain on infrastructure budgets and resources, addressing the management and purging of retained data is an absolute imperative. Accomplishing this demands a concerted effort within an organization to develop and execute a strategy, not a one-off fix. Success requires an understanding of policy and process, and a user-driven commitment to buy from vendors dedicated to interoperability standards.

This was first published in July 2007

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