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How to select an archiving product for ILM

Selecting an archiving product for an organization's ILM strategy requires careful consideration. While cost is a primary concern, decision-makers need to consider several factors, including the TCO, before deciding on the best product.

What you will learn from this tip: Selecting an archiving product for an organization's information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy requires careful consideration. While cost is a primary concern, decision-makers need to consider several factors, including the total cost of ownership (TCO), before deciding on the best product.

A well-architected data lifecycle management strategy consists of processes and procedures to properly manage the flow and accountability of information, as well as the storage hardware itself. When wisely chosen and properly implemented, these two elements will come together to form a successful strategy. Choosing the correct storage technology for key stages in the lifecycle process can make the difference between success and failure.

There are a variety of storage technologies to choose from including RAID systems, magnetic tape and optical storage. While it may seem convenient to use a single product across the entire data lifecycle, this is seldom practical. However, the strengths and weaknesses of each do make them appropriate for different stages in the process. Recently, Enterprise Strategy Group did a comprehensive evaluation of different storage technologies to determine how they compared on an overall cost basis. In addition to cost factors, there are several other considerations to contemplate when choosing the most appropriate product for your specific organization. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you are making this decision:

Spend time carefully evaluating how much capacity you'll need for your active archive application.
One thing is certain: An organization's archive storage needs will continue to grow. With storage requirments increasing, and the need to store more data for future access and compliance, strong consideration needs to be given to choosing an archiving product that allows capacity to be added seamlessly. Include expected growth and then pad that generously to be safe. In addition, a product with removeable media can provide a cost-effective scalable product for those environments where certain data is not accessed often.

Choose an archiving product that reduces the need for data migration over the required life of the data.
Data migration costs can drastically increase the TCO of an archiving product over the required life of the data. With technological advances, and the rapid obsolescence of certain technologies, notably magnetic disk, data migrations will occur multiple times over the life of data. As each data migration occurs, the cost to maintain the data increases dramatically. In addition, data is exposed to vulnerabilities which bring into question the archive quality of the data.

Choose an archiving product that allows this flexibility to meet the budget and protection requirements of individual installations.
Archiving products should be flexible enough to provide multiple means of protecting the data in the event of a disaster. Although it would be desireable to have complete redundancy in geographically remote locations, at some sites a more cost-effective approach that utilizes the benefits of removeable media to store offsite copies may suffice.

Don't hesitate to use complimentary storage technologies to deploy an storage archiving product that meets your business needs.
Archive does not necessary imply slow access. Many sites need to archive all data, and hence, require very fast access to the archive for storing and retrieving data. Magnetic disk is an excellent choice to provide fast store and retrieval speeds. Archival quality storage media (e.g., WORM technologies such as optical disc) provide the permanency required to store and retrieve data long-term. These complimentary technologies can be deployed together to provide performance and longevity without comprimise.

For more information, please check out "Active Archival Storage Cost of Ownership Analysis" by Brian Garrett, Enterprise Strategy Group.

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