Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Before Investing in Data Archiving, Ask These Questions

Data has a way of growing so quickly that it can appear unmanageable, but that is where data archiving shines through.  The tool of archiving helps users maintain a clear environment on their primary storage drives.  It is also an excellent way to keep backup and recovery spheres running smoothly.  Mistakes and disasters can and will happen, but with successful archiving, data can be easily recovered so as to successfully avert potential problems.  Another benefit to archiving data is that companies are actually saving themselves the very real possibility of a financial headache!  In the end, this tool will help to cut costs in relation to effectively storing and protecting your data.  Who doesn’t want that?  It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved!

When It Comes to Archiving Data for Storage, Where Do I Begin?
It may feel stressful at first to implement a data archiving plan into your backup and storage sphere, but don’t be worried!  To break it down, data simply needs to go from one place into another.  In other words, you are just moving data!  Sounds easy enough, right?  If things get sticky however, software is available on the market that can help users make better decisions and wise choices when it comes to moving your data.  In your preparation to incorporate archiving, you must ask yourself some important questions before you start.  This way, companies will be guaranteed to be making choices that meet the demands of their particular IT environment.  So, don’t stress-just be well prepared and ask the right questions!  Right now, you may be wondering what those questions are.  Below you will see a few of them that are most necessary to ask in order to guarantee your archiving success. 

What You Should Be Asking: 

1.      With respect to your data, what type is that you need to store?  “Cold” data may not be something you are familiar with, but this is a term used regarding data that has been left untouched for over 6 months.  If this is the type of data you are trying to store, good for you!  This particular type of data must be kept secure in the event that it is needed for compliance audits or even for a possible legal situation that could come up down the road.  At any rate, all data -regardless of why it is being stored- must be taken care of appropriately so as to ensure security and availability over time.  You can be assured you have invested in a good archiving system if it is able to show you who viewed the data and at what time the data was viewed. 

2.     Are you aware of the particular technology you are using?  It is essential to realize that data storage is highly dependent upon two factors:  the hardware and the media you are using.  Keep in mind that interfaces are a very important factor as well, and they must be upgraded from time to time.  A point to consider when storing data is that tape has an incredibly long life, and with low usage and proper storage it could potentially last for 100 years!  Wow!  However, there are arguments over which has the potential to last longer...tape or hard disk.  Opponents towards the long life of tape argue that with proper powering down of drives, hard disk will actually outlive tape.  Here is where the rubber meets the road to this theory.  It has shown to be problematic over time, and can leave users with DUDL (Data Unavailable Data Loss).  This problem IS as terrible as it sounds.  Regardless of the fact that SSD lack mechanical parts, their electronic functions results in cell degradation, ultimately causing burnout.  It is unknown, even to vendors, what the SSD life is, but most say 3 years is what they are guaranteed for.  Bear in mind, as man-made creations, these tools will over time die.  Whatever your choice in technology, you must be sure to PLAN and TEST.  These two things are the most essential tasks to do in keeping data secure over time!

3.     Do you know the format of your data?  It is important to acknowledge that “bits” have to be well-kept in order to ensure that your stored data will be usable over the long run.  Investing in appropriate hardware to accurately read data as well as to interpret it is essential.  It is safe to say that investing in such a tool is an absolute MUST in order to ensure successful long-term storage!

4.     Is the archive located on the cloud or in your actual location?  Did you know this era is one in which storing your data on the cloud is a viable means of long-term archiving?  Crazy, isn’t it!  Truth be told, access to the cloud has been an incredibly helpful advancement when it comes to storage, but as all man-made inventions prove, problems are unavoidable.  Regarding cloud storage, at this point in time, the problems arise with respect to long-term retention.  However, many enjoy the simplicity of pay-as-you-go storage options available with the cloud.  Users also like relying upon particular providers to assist them with their cloud storage management.  In looking to their providers, people are given information such as what the type, age, and interface of their storage devices are.  You might be asking yourself why this is so appealing.  The answer is simple.  Users ultimately gain the comfort of knowing that they can access their data at anytime, and that it will always be accessible.   At this point, many are wondering what the downsides are of using the cloud for storage.  Obviously, data will grow over time, inevitably causing your cloud to grow which in turn will raise your cloud storage costs.  Users will be happy to know however, that cloud storage is actually a more frugal choice than opting to store data in a data center.  In the end, the most common compliment regarding cloud storage is the TIME involved in trying to access data in the event of a necessary recovery, restore, or a compliance issue.  Often times, these issues are quite sensitive with respect to timing, therefore data must be available quickly in case of a potential disaster.   

5.     What facts do you know about your particular data?  There is often sufficient knowledge of storage capacity, but many are not able to bring to mind how much data is stored per application.  Also, many do not know who the owner of particular data is, as well as what age the data may be.  The good news is that there is software on the market that helps administrators quickly figure these factors out.  This software produces reports with the above information by scanning environments.  With the help of these reports, it can be quickly understood what data is needed and in turn, will efficiently archive that data.  All it takes is a push of a button to get these clear-cut reports with all the appropriate information on them.  What could be better than that?

In Closing, Companies MUST Archive!

In a world that can be otherwise confusing, companies must consider the importance of archiving in order to make their data and storage management easier to grasp.  Maybe if users understood that archiving is essential in order to preserve the environment of their IT world, more people would quickly jump on board.  The best news is that archiving can occur automatically, taking the guesswork out of the process.  Archiving is a sure step to keeping systems performing well, budgets in line, and data available and accessible.  Be sure to prepare yourself before investing in data archiving by asking the vital questions laid out above.  This way, you can be certain you have chosen a system which will fully meet your department needs!

Writer Jason Zhang is the product marketing person for Rocket Software's Backup, Storage, and Cloud solutions.

Finding the Right Tools to Manage Data in Today’s Modern World

A common concern among companies is if their resources are being used wisely.   Never before has this been more pressing than when considering data storage options.  Teams question the inherent worth of their data, and often fall into the trap of viewing it as an expense that weighs too heavily on the budget.  This is where wisdom is needed with respect to efficient resource use and the task of successful data storage.   Companies must ask themselves how storing particular data will benefit their business overall.  Incorporating a data storage plan into a business budget has certainly proven to be easier said than done.  Many companies fail at carrying out their desires to store data once they recognize the cost associated with the tools that are needed.  You may be wondering why the failure to follow through on these plans is so common.  After all, who wouldn’t want to budget in such an important part of company security?  The truth of the matter is that it can all be very overwhelming once the VAST amount of data that actually exists is considered, and it can be even more stressful to attempt to manage it all.

When considering what tools to use for management of one’s data, many administrators think about using either the cloud or virtualization.  Often times during their research, teams question the ability of these two places to successfully house their data.  Truth be told, both the cloud and virtualization are very reliable, but are equally limited with respect to actually managing data well.  What companies really need is a system that can effectively manage huge amounts of data, and place it into the right categories.  In doing so, the data becomes much more valuable. 

Companies must change their mindsets regarding their stored data.  It is time to put away the thoughts that data being stored is creating a money pit.  Many times, people adopt an “out with the old, in with the new” philosophy, and this is no different with respect to storing old data.  The truth is, teams eventually want new projects to work on, especially since some of the old data storage projects can appear to be high maintenance.  After all, old data generally needs lots of backups and archiving, and is actually quite needy.  These negative thoughts need to fade away however, especially in light of the fact that this data being stored and protected is a staple to company health and security.  Did you know that old and tired data actually holds the very heart of a company?  It is probable that many forget that fact, since they are so quick to criticize it!  Also notable is the fact that this data is the source of a chunk of any given business’s income.  Good to know, isn’t it?!  Poor management of data would very likely be eradicated if more teams would keep the value of this data on the forefront of their minds.  It is clear that the task of managing huge amounts of company data can be intimidating and overwhelming, but with the right attitude and proper focus, it is not impossible. 

The best news yet is that there are excellent TOOLS that exist in order to help companies take on the magnanimous task of managing company data.  In other words, administrators don’t have to go at it alone!  The resources out there will assist users with classifying and organizing data, which is a huge relief NOT to have to do manually.  When teams readily combine these tools with their understanding of business, they have a sure recipe for success when it comes to management.  To break it down even further, let’s use a more concrete example.  Imagine you are attempting to find out information about all the chemical engineers in the world.  You must ask yourself how you would go about doing this in the most efficient manner.  After all, you would clearly need to narrow down your search since there are more than 7 billion individuals that exist on this planet.  Obviously, you wouldn’t need to gather information on every single human being, as this would be a huge time waster.  On the contrary, to make things more streamlined, you would likely scope out and filter through various groups of people and categorize them by profession.  Maybe you would consider a simple search in engineering graduates.  The above example in organizing information is probably the method most people use to organize simple things in their life on a daily basis.  Keep in mind, having these tools to help streamline data is one thing, but one must also possess a good understanding of business plans, as this will assist for a better grasp on corporate data.  With these things in line, businesses can be assured that their data management systems will be in good hands and running smoothly. 

What a great gift to be alive during this time, with the easy access to modern tools which help make management of data much more understandable to those in charge.  These valuable resources also help to create confidence in administrators so that they feel well-equipped to navigate the sometimes harsh IT world.  For example, during the changes with data types and volumes, these tools assist in helping to lower the storage capacity needs, lower costs on backup and recovery, and aid in the passing of compliance with flying colors.  In fact, many in charge can rest their heads at night knowing their companies are totally in line with modern-day regulatory compliance rules. 

In the end, the value of wisdom with respect to making various decisions in an IT department is incredibly important.  Arguably one of the most areas which this applies to is in the sphere of data management.  The truth is, dependence upon tools alone to navigate the sometimes rough waters of the IT world will not be enough to get teams through.  As stated above, wisdom and the right attitude regarding data and its importance to company health and security are vital to proper management.  In addition, clients ought to be looking for resources to assist them with organizing and classifying their systems of files.  The point is clear:  intelligence paired with the proper tools will give companies exactly what they need for efficient and effective data management.  At the end of the day, users can rest easy with the knowledge that their data -which is the bread and butter of their companies- is in good hands.  What more could you ask for?

Writer Jason Zhang is the product marketing person for Rocket Software's Backup, Storage, and Cloud solutions.