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Archive360 2017 Predictions: Modern Archiving in the Public Cloud

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Bob Spurzem, Director of Field Marketing, Archive360

Modern Archiving in the Public Cloud

When someone mentions the modern data center what comes to mind first?  Virtual machines (VMs), containers, SSD, flash storage, hyper-convergence?  The answer is, "all of the above."  But have you considered public cloud storage as a critical element of your modern data center strategy in 2017? 

Consider the mundane challenge of cleaning up old, unstructured data from file shares, servers, desktops and the like.  Let's be honest, this task has been sitting on the "back burner" for years.  However, what if you could store unstructured data in the public cloud for as little as $0.02 per GB per month? 

Public Cloud

In 2017, the public cloud will continue to gain in popularity (and, rightly so) as the perfect platform for preserving and managing unstructured data.  The public cloud offers virtually limitless scalability and flexibility as well as the ability to quickly, easily and securely access and share data from any location.  And, how about the unbeatable price?  Amazon, Azure, Google and other leading public cloud vendors now sell ‘cold' blob storage for as little as $0.01 - $0.02 per GB per month.  Compared to the total cost of enterprise storage, you can enjoy 50X savings! 

In 2017, IT and business managers alike will see that this simply makes good business sense.  Managing unstructured data is a major challenge for every organization.  In fact, numerous analysts/pundits have stated it can account for 90% of all digital information. Taking into account the cost of enterprise storage and the cost for the ongoing support and maintenance of aging document repositories; the proper management of unstructured data directly impacts the IT budget - in a major way! 

The first step to cleaning up aging and potentially unwanted unstructured data is to analyze it carefully.  Take an inventory of your file shares and note the names, type, age and owner of all the files.  Work together with department business owners to classify data according to its business and legal value.  Data that has no business or legal value should be promptly removed. 

Unstructured data rests on network file shares which have costly annual support and maintenance fees.  Unstructured data also rests in aging document repositories and email archives that have costly support and maintenance fees and costly server and storage hardware.  When unstructured data is moved to the public cloud, on premises file shares and application servers can be decommissioned. 

Next generation archiving applications are already available that efficiently and securely manage unstructured data in the public cloud for very low cost (oftentimes for less than can be achieved on-premises), as well as provide important functions such as indexing, search, export, disposition and access control.

Modern Archiving

You don't need to wait until January.  Today's modern archiving applications can already run 100% in the cloud and perform the traditional archival functions such as collection, indexing, search and access control at minimal cost.  The archive runs on a virtual machine with a SQL database to store meta information.  Indexing enables content search and is available "as needed" by the cloud service provider.  And finally, web services, encryption, active directory, business analytics and more are useful services to complete the archiving application. 

The good news is that all services are consumed on an "as-needed" basis thereby minimizing cost and commitment.  As storage demand scales up, low-cost storage is available automatically with unlimited capacity.  For eDiscovery, compute and indexing services can be scaled up to meet high demand and a tight deadline.  And importantly, when all the "fires" have been extinguished, storage and compute services can be immediately scaled back down.

Data Collection

Data collection is critical to the success of the archiving application.  It is a mistake to assume that files will be simply copied to the new repository.  The truth is unstructured data comes in many formats and locations that require a sophisticated approach. 

Email data is a good example.  Email data is critical for business reference and it is critical for regulatory compliance and legal discovery.  Email data can be found in on premises email servers, email archives, journal archives and PST files.  Email collection tools identify active/inactive mailboxes, rehydrates email stubs if any and migrates email in its original format to the cloud repository.

SharePoint data is another good example.  SharePoint sites have undoubtedly spread throughout your organization and have created silos of information.  Much of this information is old and obsolete and is consuming valuable enterprise storage.  For SharePoint, the collection process provides tools to discovery sites and migrate content.

Indexing and Search

Before you can search data, it must be indexed and this is a very important function to consider.  Do you want to index all the content or just a subset of the content?  The issue to consider is cost.  Indexing consumes compute and storage resources.  Depending on the amount of content to index, this can be very expensive.  It is better to index only the data you wish to search and conserve compute and storage cost.  A simple example is to index all content for specific custodians for a specific period of time.

With search comes nice features like hit highlighting, legal holds, tagging, saving and exporting.  A lightweight case management application helps to organize multiple searches by matter and allows for easy access control.  Full auditing and reporting provides easy access to reports for audits and legal chain-of-custody evidence.  And automated disposition makes it easy to adhere to retention rules without incurring management overhead.

Wrap-up

While you think about how you wish to modernize your data center for 2017 and beyond, consider the many undeniable benefits of the public cloud for archiving your organization's low-touch, unstructured data.  The first and most obvious of course is that compared to enterprise storage, public cloud storage cost savings of 50X can be achieved.  And, even if you are among the rare organizations where budget isn't a concern, tremendous efficiency, flexibility and capability gains are an added bonus. 

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About the Author

Bob Spurzem

Bob Spurzem is a 30+ year industry veteran and a recognized subject matter expert in enterprise storage software, virtualization, archiving and eDiscovery.  His resume ranges from the ground floor of start-ups to the Fortune-100.  He is the co-author of Email Archiving for Dummies.  When he isn't researching industry trends or getting another advanced degree, Bob is planning his next travel adventure.

Published Monday, December 12, 2016 7:08 AM by David Marshall
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