Active Archives Support Cost Containment, Analytics and Security in Post COVID Economy

March 17th, 2021 by By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism at FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. and Co-Chairperson of the Active Archive Alliance

As we slowly but surely head into the post COVID-19 economy, IT professionals are facing numerous challenges brought on by the pandemic itself such as supporting a suddenly expanded remote workforce. But also included are the relentless growth of data, extracting value from data, limited budgets and the here-to-stay threat of cybercrime. As a result, IT leaders will need to be focused on cost containment, data analytics and security.  The need for cost containment of rapidly growing unstructured data will be critical. Active archiving will be a significant tool as companies recognize the increasing value of data and the need to cost-effectively store ever increasing volumes for longer periods of time. Ready access to that data via an active archive will support AI-based analytics to derive competitive advantage and return on investment. At the same time, data security will be an increasing priority in an era of escalating cybercrime.

Cost Containment

Prior to the COVID pandemic in early 2020, IT budgets were already constrained and only growing at a CAGR of 3.1% according to a Statista report. For federal government, it was just 1.0%. However, the CAGR of persistent data growth according to IDC is about 35%. That’s a major disconnect and forces IT departments to store more data with less resources. Adding to the burden has been the increasing value of data for future analytics or potential monetization and the resulting “store everything forever” mentality. Intelligent active archive solutions help solve this problem. An active archive is a cost-effective online storage architecture that provides for rapid access to archival data via a virtual file system and moves data transparently between one or more storage platforms based on user defined policies. An active archive solution can leverage the unique performance and economic benefits of SSDs, HDDs, tape, or the cloud (public or private). With additional intelligence provided by metadata and global namespaces, data silos are eliminated providing faster search and retrieval capability in a single virtualized storage pool.

With IT budgets unexpectedly taxed by work from home infrastructure support, and with revenue and profits of many verticals negatively impacted by the pandemic itself, it only stands to reason that IT budgets will remain under continuing pressure. Given that freshly generated data quickly gets cold after just 30, 60 or 90 days, it only makes sense to keep it accessible, but on lower cost tiers of storage like economy disk or in automated tape libraries. With its lowest cost per TB and minimal energy consumption, making tape part of a sound active archive strategy makes perfect sense not only for the budget but for the environment as well.

Analytics

With the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, vast amounts of data are required to train AI/ML applications and it’s a never ending cycle of comparing new data to old data. Organizations will want to maintain access to data sets for longer periods of time to support a continuous cycle of data ingest, analytics and inference, all leading to better predictive algorithms. A dramatic increase in cost effective and efficient storage capacity in the form of active archives will be demanded to support this model. For example, the multiple sources and massive amounts of sensor data generated during the first 10,000 miles of an autonomous vehicle will always be kept and compared to the performance of each successive 10,000 miles for the life of the vehicle. Keeping this ever increasing amount of data readily accessible for the next run of analytics, and doing so cost-effectively will be a key role of active archives.

The exploding IoT market, with billions of installed devices will continue to expand in 2021 especially as 5G networks start to proliferate. AI tools will provide the analytics power to derive value from all of the big data generated by countless IoT devices. As a result, the combination of IoT data and AI will have a profound impact on the need for vast amounts of storage. An active archive will keep that data readily available while protecting the bottom line.

Cybercrime

It’s been said that ransomware is only in its infancy. One might have speculated that ransomware would be just a flash in the pan and eventually tail off, even if long tailed. But that’s not the case with ransomware attacks doubling in 2020 over 2019.  It was disheartening to see the increased number of ransomware attacks in the healthcare market during 2020 as pandemic related chaos prevailed and provided a smokescreen for the hackers.

Predictions by some suggest a company will be hit by ransomware every 11 seconds in 2021. A July 2020 report from Gartner predicts that “Cybersecurity threats and ransomware attacks will impact 95% of Infrastructure & Operations leaders through 2024”. Active archives will play an increasing role in cybercrime prevention with the ability to support the export of copies of data to a secure offline location providing true air gap protection. Once removed from the network, the data simply can’t be hacked.

While the IT profession faces multiple challenges as we slowly emerge from the pandemic, a strategic approach to intelligently managing data by implementing an active archive will pay dividends in reducing costs, providing competitive advantage and safeguarding the data that is becoming our most valuable asset.

 

 

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