Digitization of Existing Archive Data

March 15th, 2024 by Paul Luppino, Director of Data Management Technology Solutions at Iron Mountain

Many organizations are struggling with the accessibility of legacy and archive data. They want it in a format that enables them to utilize the data and to be able to search it. Without realizing it, they are asking for an active archive.

An active archive can be defined as data that is rarely or never accessed but is either too valuable to discard, must be retained for legal or compliance reasons, or could be valuable in the years ahead. Active archives store data so that it is not modifiable yet offers reliability, cost-effectiveness, and data availability within a few minutes. 

Challenging Times
Businesses with large quantities of legacy and archived data need an active archive to help them in their ongoing efforts to change the way they do business. Some are refreshing backup software or shifting to different backup formats. They may be considering moving to a cloud or disk-based backup solution. Others are moving onto or out of the cloud. In many cases, they want to take some of the data they are not using in the cloud and put it back on tape. In addition, data center consolidation is driving architectural changes. Some organizations want to manage fewer data centers and simplify their storage infrastructure. Mergers and acquisitions, too, play a role in shaping how organizations must address their data and maximize its value.

Regardless of the ongoing data strategy, all organizations face challenges as they have data in multiple media from different systems that span several generations of equipment. They may not have the hardware anymore on which aging data was created. Their current gear may not have enough backward compatibility to allow access.

In addition, it is quite common for some to struggle with manual and time-intensive processes for the management of tape and archives. Others lack the tools and equipment needed for efficient data restoration and migration. In most cases, they face high storage costs due to the accumulated costs of software licensing, data center OPEX, hardware refreshes, and maintenance.

Modernization is needed to be able to support data across many generations. Organizations need to be able to host all physical and digital data on media that will be usable for many decades into the future. This media must be able to retain everything for very long periods or dispense with large quantities when it reaches its required retention limit for compliance.

Securing Data Across the IT Lifecycle
What is needed, therefore, is a way to achieve long-term data retention cost effectively while being able to migrate data to and from wherever it is needed and to have an automated process in place for end-of-life asset disposal. That necessitates an architecture such as:

-Tape storage for offside retention that includes centralized and secure vaulting of media.
-The ability to restore archived data rapidly from tape and move it to hard disk drives (HDDs) or the cloud while also being able to respond speedily to compliance and litigation requests.
-Tape archives can transfer data to the cloud or disk to facilitate big data analytics and AI.
-An air gap that prevents malware and ransomware infection by retaining data completely offline.

An active archive on tape provides these capabilities.

You can find out more about emerging use cases for active archives by listening to the recordings of the 2023 Active Archive Virtual Conference.


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