Not All Archives Are Equal

The Modern Archive: Part 1

Rethinking repositoriesBusiness is booming, clients are smiling, and you’re completing projects left and right. All is good; but what about all of that cumulative data? Every time a project ends, you’re left with an ever-growing inventory of files and folders. More data leads to more data storage, leading to higher storage costs. On the one hand, you’re dying to free up server space. On the other hand, complying with government or industry regulations means you can’t just hit “delete.” It’s time to move inactive data into lower-cost storage –– you know, archive. Every organization should have an archive strategy, but separating what’s no longer needed in day-to-day business is only a part of the solution. Think of an archive as a means to securing old files in such a way that it simplifies future operations. How can enterprise leaders know they’re securing their valuable data and complying with regulations while also maintaining accessibility?The number of available archive options can be somewhat misleading because most solutions fall under one of two categories; traditional file servers or cloud-based services. File serversIt’s not uncommon for companies that use the cloud to move inactive data onto old file servers. On-site file servers support granular access permissions, which allow IT to customize folder privacy settings. Specifying user access is crucial to maintaining security. However, file servers don’t scale, so they’re not really practical for the long term. Traditional file servers also require off-site backups, heavy maintenance, and hardware replacement. They’re more expensive than the cloud and are only as good as their available WAN. Downloading archived data can be cumbersome for remote users when VPN access is required, decreasing overall network performance. In addition, file servers don’t support contextual search, so it may be difficult to locate archived records without exact file/folder names. (This is essential to maintaining regulatory compliance)Cloud storageCloud-based services do scale, but their capabilities vary widely. It’s important to draw a distinction between low-cost cloud storage and cloud archives. Low-cost storage (i.e. cold storage) is bare bones and offers very slow access speeds. It’s biggest selling point is affordability. Companies can move inactive data into cold storage, but doing so can complicate future operations. It may take hours to retrieve content from cold storage, thanks to throttled bandwidth and traditional hard drive technology. Without built-in audit trails or granular access controls, cold storage may not be equipped to handle archive requirements. In industries like healthcare, there are strict laws regarding data access and although cold storage may still be an available option, it must be managed differently. For this reason, it may be better as a backup strategy, since usability is limited. Deploying an archive is like planning for the future; it should make file access convenient.Cloud archivesCloud-based archives use intelligent applications to build upon cold storage systems, adding security, reporting and auditing, and a better user experience. They are designed to scale as content increases and can improve mobile access company-wide. Cloud archives can even support contextual search, making document discovery and future inquiries easy. Deploying a cloud-based archive is also a great way to modernize legacy infrastructure because it protects against hardware failure. Migrating traditional archives to the cloud helps those looking for a competitive edge decommission old servers, thereby eliminating the need for costly disaster recovery and backup services. Cloud archives are unique because they can provide the same granular access permissions that file servers offer, making them the only solution to combine security, usability, and scalability –– all at a lower cost to active systems. Cloud archives are powerful, but end to end integration can still be a challenge. Using any of the aforementioned solutions to improve organizational structure may still lead to the creation of data silos. Data silos inhibit consistency and system visibility. Content should be kept in a single repository whenever possible.One platform to rule them allAn optimal cloud-based archive uses a centralized repository, which allows IT to manage all company data (active or archive) in one place. This helps prevent information from being lost or mishandled and provides better visibility into how it’s used. A cloud archive should integrate seamlessly with your corporate content platform to provide flexibility, centralized control, and better data security.Click here to learn more about the best way to save on storage costs, comply with data regulations, and improve usability.Check out our Four Archive Essentials, where we discuss exactly what to look for in an enterprise-grade archive solution.

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Tim Johnson

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