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Technology Enablers for Better Cloud Archiving
Dick Casplar, Aberdeen Group
DEC 04, 2013 08:00 AM
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The decreasing cost of Cloud-based storage has made long term storage, or archiving files, financially affordable. In January 2013, Aberdeen surveyed 123 organizations to learn how they use the Public Cloud as part of their IT infrastructure, including a variation of Cloud storage – Cloud archiving. This report focuses on the technology enablers (related computing tools) that lead to successful Cloud archiving programs. The entire report can be found at “Best Practices for Cloud Archiving.”

Cloud Archiving Technology Enablers

This table highlights some of the differences in technologies used by Cloud Archivers and All Others.

Archive Practice 3

Sixty five percent (65%) of Cloud Archivers allow partial file retrieval. Partial retrieval of archived files means that large blocks of data need not be recovered if only small amounts or a single file is required. For example, end-users who want only a small snippet of a video can recover only the segments needed rather than having to deal with the entire video file. Enabling partial retrievals means smaller amounts of data moving around with faster file recovery times

Archive management software provides a single point of management for control and allows companies to meet the tight requirements of regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other government mandates. Archive management software sets schedules for creating archives, tracks the archive assets, and manages the recovery of required assets. The management software should be based on open standards to ensure access to different archiving technologies as they evolve over time. Sixty three percent (63%) of Cloud Archivers use this technology while only 43% of All Others do.

A cloud storage gateway is a network appliance or a piece of server-hosted software which sits at the customer premise and connects the enterprise’s storage to the Cloud. The newest and most valuable data is kept local, for ease and speed of access. The user can set parameters for how long the data is to stay cached locally and when to move data off the local storage device and into the Public Cloud. This automation of moving data to the Cloud is a great advantage for managing both Cloud storage and Cloud archives and is employed by 59% of Cloud Archivers.

End-user initiated archives and self-service archived file restoration are flip sides of the same coin. End-users know best if the files they are using are no longer required for day to day access. Allowing end-users to initiate their own file archiving means better control of the data and higher end-user satisfaction. For IT, having to do an emergency file recovery for an end-user is an interrupt to their workday. End-users allowed to search and recover their own archived files shifts the work to the requester and away from IT. Cloud archivers have twice the rates of direct end-user involvement in corporate archiving programs.

Cloud Archivers are almost three times as likely to use metadata tags in managing their archives. Metadata is data about the files, such as the date of creation, size of the file, format (Word doc, Excel, etc.), and dates of access. Metadata makes searching for individual files much easier than having to open each file to read the contents. Software tools exist that automatically apply metadata tags on files to make them easier to search and manage.

Conclusions

Aberdeen has written extensively about Cloud archiving. This is the third report in the series (for the first two reports please visit the Aberdeen Website). All three reports highlight the gains companies can receive from deploying part or all of their archives in the Public Cloud.

However, as outlined in this report, the maximum benefits can be gained only by surrounding the Cloud archive with technology enablers that help ensure success. Technologies such as Cloud storage gateways, archive management software, and end-user involvement in managing their own files reduces the amount of effort to manage the archives over time.

Cloud archiving is an emerging industry and, if done right, would seem to payoff for companies that have chosen this new technology.

Dick Csaplar

Senior Research Analyst, Virtualization and the Cloud

IT Infrastructure Group

Aberdeen Group

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