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Financial considerations also come into play when comparing an archiving system to plain storage capacity. Payformance's Beckham recognized the cost differential, but says it was justified based on the added meta data and WORM functionality. "We weren't buying a storage system, we were investing in the value that an intelligent archiving platform brought to our business," he says. When evaluating a storage platform for archive consolidation, consider whether the advanced features of an archiving system are required. Although an existing storage device might be acceptable for retention, these capabilities might be worth the extra money. Note that technical issues like the scalability of deduplication and the manner in which protocols like NFS handle offline files sometimes crop up. In these cases, only a specialized archiving platform will do.

Finally, since archiving software often directly integrates with these capabilities, these specialized storage systems are much more likely to be configured correctly than basic storage devices. When purchasing archiving hardware or software, look for highly integrated combinations to minimize the risk and headache of management.

The global archive

Where should one start when considering a consolidated archive? Like all IT decisions, the first consideration should be the business objectives to be served. Start by thinking about the goal: Will the archive deliver capacity control, compliance, business productivity

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or legal support, or a combination of these capabilities? Then compile a list of specific functional requirements: what the system must do, rather than how it must accomplish these things. Only then can products be evaluated fairly in this complicated corner of the storage market.

This was first published in January 2009

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