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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is the cloud the way to future-proof backups and archives?

At GWAVAcon yesterday in Las Vegas, I had an interesting discussion with three gentlemen from SEP Software.

We were talking about long-term archiving and the problems associated with accessing old data for which systems are no longer available. For example, if you have a regulatory compliance obligation to preserve data for 10 years or more (a likely possibility in the healthcare, chemicals and other industries) how will you access data that old? If you have archived the content to tape, machines capable of reading those tapes might no longer be available, or services that can extract the data might be extraordinarily expensive. You can archive them to optical media, but you could have the same problem. You could print your records on paper, but that's is very onerous and expensive.

I suggested that perhaps the best way to manage long term archival is simply to dump the problem on someone else, namely SaaS archiving providers. They will still need to upgrade their storage media over time as on-premise deployments will need to do, but it becomes their problem instead of their customers'. Plus, given that they are specialist providers, they could likely accomplish the migration at a lower cost per bit than you could.

For those opposed to SaaS archiving, a hybrid approach that combines near- and mid-term archival using on-premise systems with long-term archival in the cloud could provide that future-proofing that companies will eventually need.


Anonymous Nick Mehta said...

Hi Mike,

Obviously I'm biased but I fully agree with you. The problem is that data is outliving hardware by increasing margins so the data retention/conversion problem is getting bigger and bigger. Given the infinitely-growing nature of archives, I've found that many companies underestimate the effort of archiving initially and then realize the issue over time as they grow.

Nick Mehta

January 26, 2010 10:25 PM


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