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Getting started with database archiving

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Database archiving software has two primary functions: removing data from the primary database and managing the information once it's been extracted. With several vendors offering database archiving products, including Clearpace Software, CopperEye, EMC, Hewlett-Packard (via its acquisition of OuterBay) IBM, Princeton Softech and Solix Technologies, users should evaluate a vendor's ability to identify, classify and manage database objects that span multiple tables. This enables users to archive specific database transactions as opposed to only being able to archive full tables. For example, an e-commerce retailer may have several data entries when a purchase order is received. The inventory, customer account and accounts receivable tables may all be updated as the result of a single purchase transaction. With the appropriate database archiving solution, administrators should be able to archive the transaction as opposed to each individual table.

Start small
Organizations may first deploy database archiving to address a single objective, such as reducing the time it takes to complete production database backups and then leverage the product's capabilities to achieve additional benefits. After reducing the production backup window, the next step may be to archive key revenue tables within a financial reporting application. These tables may be needed in an audit, but aren't required for IT to test the latest version of an order-entry application.

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Doing so segregates confidential data and maintains this information online for a specific subset of users, the auditors.

Databases may very well be the lifeblood of IT departments, solving a variety of problems from linking information sources to enabling online transaction processing. Database archiving is like a flu shot for databases--it's a proactive measure to manage data growth that mitigates the cost of keeping information online and accessible for longer periods of time.

This was first published in August 2006

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