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How does a data archiving strategy benefit DR and backup?

In order to be truly resilient, your organization needs more than just a backup and disaster recovery plan. Integrating archiving into your strategy offers some serious benefits.

While organizations typically use separate products for disaster recovery, backup and data archiving, there can be benefits to pursuing greater convergence. If your organization is looking to become more resilient, having a data archiving strategy integrated into your protection plan is a good first step.

According to Greg Schulz, senior advisory analyst at StorageIO, it helps to think of disaster recovery as "the big umbrella that protects the entire company," of which backup and archiving are key elements. In that context, Schulz said, you should be thinking beyond just backup and disaster recovery. Schulz said that vendors generally try to pull the focus primarily toward backup or some other area, perhaps archiving or replication, depending on what product they are selling. However, the DR umbrella should embrace all of it.

Many companies make the mistake of deciding that they aren't in a disaster-prone area, therefore they don't need to worry about DR -- backup is sufficient. However, Schulz said, if you then ask these organizations if they are concerned about "resiliency," they will say that they are. When it comes to being resilient, both data backup and disaster recovery need to be working together to prevent and recover from IT catastrophes.  

But that's not all. Protecting, preserving and securing information is a major function of IT infrastructure, and that means more than just backup and DR. Organizations need to approach data protection from all angles: "You need backup, archiving and DR," Schulz said.

If you fall into the trap of thinking that the archive is only for data that is covered by retention regulations, then you're missing the greatest aspect of an archive.
Greg SchulzSenior advisory analyst, StorageIO

While it may seem obvious that a backup is not an archive and vice versa, Schulz stressed that you need both as part of protecting your environment and your organization. "If you fall into the trap of thinking that the archive is only for data that is covered by retention regulations, then you're missing the greatest aspect of an archive," he said. In fact, according to Schulz, a good data archiving strategy is the "aspirin" of the data world, and can treat a great many ailments.

"The cure [for data-related challenges] is often archiving, whether you have a hundred terabytes or a hundred petabytes," he said. Why? If you can go in and archive not just because of regulation, but as part of a tiering process, you will be in much better shape overall. A data archiving strategy encourages you and your organization to determine what must be saved and for how long, and then to separate much of that data and store it in an archive, for occasional use only.

ESG Spectrum
Enterprise Strategy Group breaks down the different elements of data protection in the ESG Spectrum of Data Protection.

"Tiering lets you put a lot of data into an archive, in effect a cold storage, so now you don't have as much data to actively protect," Schulz said. As long as you have multiple copies somewhere, you are generally covered. "So, all of a sudden, you've reduced your data and storage and management headache," he said. Having a data archiving strategy in place is another way of reducing your data footprint. Instead of having to protect a petabyte, three quarters of which never changes, you can focus on protecting a much smaller amount of data that changes regularly.

So, in that sense, starting with the archive focus helps put the other aspects of data protection, namely backup and disaster recovery, in a proper focus. "You can't really move forward if you can't go back in time," said Schulz. In other words, start with thinking about what must be archived and then aim for capabilities that provide "point-in-time" views of your data so you can make use of what you have to recover quickly and with the functions you need.

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