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Who is Archiving in the Public Cloud? A Portrait of Cloud Archiving Programs
Dick Csaplar, Aberdeen Group
SEP 20, 2013 05:00 AM
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In January 2013, Aberdeen surveyed 126 organizations to learn how they use the Public Cloud as part of their IT infrastructure. This blog focuses on a variation of Cloud storage — Cloud archiving. The decreasing cost of Cloud-based storage has made long-term storage, or archiving of data files, financially affordable. Aberdeen research found that companies that use the Cloud for archiving already have a large percentage of their archives in the Cloud and can recover archived files more quickly than those using more traditional archiving technology. This blog focuses on the companies with Cloud archives, the performance of their archive programs, and the types of data they trust in the Public Cloud. The full report can be found here “Who is Archiving in the Public Cloud? A Portrait of Cloud Archiving Programs?”

Who is Archiving in the Public Cloud

Aberdeen segmented the survey respondents by size of their enterprise. We then compared some of the metrics of their archiving program. The results in Table 1 show that small enterprises are heavy users of Cloud archiving.

First, a sizable minority of Cloud storage users archive their data in the Public Cloud. Forty-two percent (42%) of the January 2013 survey respondents with a Cloud storage program reported having some form of a Cloud archiving program.

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In previous Aberdeen surveys, companies reported that average overall storage for companies of all sizes was growing at a rate of 35% per year. This data growth includes the original copies of the data, on-site backup copies, remote backup copies, incremental snapshots of changes, and sets of replicated data used by departments for testing, analysis, and business programs. The fact that overall archive growth is less than half (16%) the growth of storage means that companies generally are doing a good job (large doing better than mid-sized as their archives are growing at a slower rate) at archiving only single copies of data and not just archiving all their data.

For companies with an active Cloud program, small and mid-sized organizations are the heaviest users of Cloud archiving. Forty-six percent (46%) of small and 42% of mid-size companies reported storing archives in the Public Cloud. While only 17% of large enterprises claim to have a Cloud archiving program, this is still a significant market for providers given the potential large volume of files companies of this size generate over time.

Types of Data being Archived

Survey takers reported the types of data they archive. Figure 1 lists the most common forms of data. It should be no surprise that email is the most common form of data archived by both analysis groups. This is to be expected as email correspondence is the most common form of corporate communication and hence, the most sought after data in litigation. An entire industry called eDiscovery has grown to support corporations that are the target of legal action. eDiscovery tools make it easier to search archives to find documents relevant to a case, place them under a legal hold (prevent them from being accessed and changed), and prepared for presentation to the court.

Also not surprisingly, the second most common form of archived data is customer records. These are generally considered the crown jewels of an organization as customer information can be mined for future revenue opportunities.

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The least likely data to be archived is rich or multi-media content such as video, photos, or film. Aberdeen expects this to change as more companies shift their marketing assets to electronic media and video, and away from written or word-based formats. Using tools such as deduplicaiton and data compression will reduce the size of the rich or multi-media archived files. Also new archive management tools will allow the recovery of partial files, meaning that if only 10 seconds of a video is required, just that section and not the entire video need be recovered.

Report Conclusions

Aberdeen has written extensively about the many “as-a-Service” Cloud offerings emerging on the market. These services all offer basically the same benefit by renting the underlying computing infrastructure to the users. This benefits end-users financially (the “pay-per-use” model) and operationally (by outsourcing basic IT tasks to companies specialized in their execution).

Cloud archiving employs this model. Companies that outsource their archives to the Public Cloud gain the benefits of improved archive performance and pay for them from their operational budget. Companies with the most demanding archiving requirements are adopting Cloud archiving more aggressively than others. For those looking for a reliable way to preserve files for decades, archive-as-a-service needs to be considered.

Cloud archiving is an emerging industry and it would seem to have its best days ahead of it.

Dick Csaplar

Senior Research Analyst, Virtualization and the Cloud

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