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Important issues to resolve when building an enterprise data archive, part two

Part two of "Important issues to resolve when building an enterprise data archive" focuses on helping you decide which software to use and how to use it.

In part one of this tip, Bob explained how to begin the process of building an enterprise data archive, and broke the process down into three steps. In each of the steps, Bob discussed technologies associated with builing a data archive, including WORM media, and answered key questions to help with the building process. Part two's focus is on which software to use to set up an enterprise archive.

Which software should I use?

To make a good decision about the software, you need to answer a couple of questions. Are you planning to build a small archive; say 500GB to two TBs for holding a single data type? Or are you planning on a large enterprise data archive capable of handling hundreds of TBs of multiple data types? Consider this decision carefully.

Take, for example, a medium size organization with one thousand employees. E-mail archive alone can account for nearly one TB of storage per year. If you also take into account storage for unstructured data (engineering files, media files, test results, etc.) and structured data (financial records, ERP records, CRM records, etc.) you may easily be storing TBs of data per year.

Some software solutions run Microsoft SQL on Windows which is fine for small dedicated archives. But for a large enterprise archive, you will do better with a solution that supports Oracle or Microsoft SQL running on clustered servers (Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX). Take a close look at the database(s) and platform(s) that the archive solutions support and make sure it matches with the size of your archive.

If your plans call for a large enterprise data archive that can handle multiple data types, then you will benefit from an archive solution that offers n-tier architecture versus a single-tier archive server (e.g. e-mail only).

N-tier architecture breaks the single-tier architecture into two physical layers. The first layer is comprised of Archive Services. Archive Services are tailored to handle different applications including differences in record format, communication, and security. The second layer is the Archive Media Manager. It collects data from Archive Services and stores the data in a single database archive. The Archive Media Manager communicates directly with the storage media, be it disk, optical or tape. N-tier architecture scales easily by adding additional Archive Services to handle large applications.

A Final Tip

The final question is, "Where do I begin?" So here's a final tip. Begin by getting help from other experts in your organization. If you are a storage administrator, you will need help from your legal counsel and your compliance officer. And do not neglect to look outside your organization for assistance. Outside management consultants can provide valuable expertise that your organization may be lacking and can help alleviate potential turf battles.

The good news is that by working together with both in-house and outside experts, you can obtain answers to the hard questions and draft an archive storage plan that meets the needs of your organization. A well thought-out archive storage plan will guide your decisions about storage hardware and the archive software itself.

For more information:

Tip: 2004: The year of compliance?

Tip: Managing corporate records for Sarbanes-Oxley

Article: Businesses fail to meet SEC rules on e-mail archiving, risk fines, imprisonment

About the author: Bob Spurzem is with Hitachi Data Systems product marketing and industry solutions division.

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