The Problem

One inevitability in business is that data will grow, how fast and at what rate is unknown. One thing we do know, is that 80% of your new data growth will be unstructured. What exactly do we mean by unstructured data? Brochures, Videos, Word and Excel documents not created within a CRM or ERP system, PDF, PowerPoint Presentation and emails etc.

All of the above data will sit on your main production storage system. This means you are filling up expensive storage with files that are never looked at and just kept for reference. Of course, a lot of these document contain important data and for those companies that utilise business analytics they are valuable from that perspective. However, if a document hasn’t been accesses for 6 months, does it deserve to sit on your main data store?

All IT Directors and Manager are under pressure to either reduce costs or do more with less. This naturally includes data storage costs. We know from statistics that approximately 20% of your production data is current and accessed on a regular basis. This means if you have a fast storage device with 10TB on it you could safely remove around 8TB of that to free up space for new active files. This could save you a lot of money in adding more disc or replacing your data stores.

So how does it work?

Storage Management Data Storage Office Working Network Concept

It is very simple, you implement a tiering workflow solution. This means you set a data archiving strategy, which means you can define a set criteria for each file type and the software will move the file around based on the criteria set. For example, the is no point having a .PDF on a certain product that you only sell occasionally sitting in SSD or Flash storage, as this is expensive and will be limited on availability. You probably don’t want it sitting on enterprise grade SAS drives either, so the answer is to move it to slower SATA drives. However the key to this solution is you leave a link or tag behind so that any user can still access it as if it was still in its original location.

Another very good reason for archiving data is to reduce the backup window. Most backup solutions will charge you on the amount of backup you do each day. If you have 10TB sitting on your main SAN and you backup 10TB daily, you are paying for that. However, if you only backup the data that is likely to change you can reduce your backup from 10TB to around 2TB, saving money and reducing your backup window. Files that don’t change don’t have to be backed up each until the next time they change. This does not mean they are unprotected in the event of a failure.

Seven steps to setting up a data archiving strategy

1. Discover – Collect all information on your main storage area. i.e. age, owner, file type, access, size and metadata.

2. Organise- Organise group resources according to practice. i.e. last accessed, by file type and by owner.

3. Classify – This is the contextual data according to the value to the business. i.e. Higher value MD, CFO information or lower value .PDF or CAD over 3 months.

4. Create – Create document management policy or policies. i.e. migrate lower value data and leave a link on primary storage or clean up every week unused files over 6 months old.

5. Simulate- What if scenarios and check the effectiveness of policies without impacting on your business environment.

6. Execute- Implement the policies.

7. Evaluate- Verify the effectiveness of your policies.

One important thing to remember is all the above stages can be done without any noticeable effect on the performance of your IT Infrastructure.

What are the business benefits to archiving data?

1. Reduced costs – move older data to cheaper forms of storage to free up space on your production data storage.

2. Reduced backup window – removing data from expensive storage also means less backup and reduced time to complete your backup.

3. Compliance – This is often the main reason for implementing a data archiving strategy.

4. Knowledge retention – In the era of ‘big data’ knowledge is king and the more data you have the more you can report on it. By removing old data, you can report on the important data and up to date reporting.

5. Improved performance – by reducing your production data, you can now access data quicker and give an overall performance boost to your data store.

How do I know if data archiving will work for me?

Unleashed is currently offering selected customers a data archiving strategy review. We will run a software tool on your IT Network for one month, this non-intrusive exercise will gather all the data on your main production server/SAN and give you a fully detailed report on all the data you are storing with indicative information on how much you could save by archiving your data. To view a sample report and book a no obligation consultation, click below.