Successful data lifecycle management will often require multiple platforms and methods of protection and organisations need to have clear policies on how they manage data. These will reduce risk and ensure that organisations are compliant with industry regulations and legal guidelines. Two common methods of protecting and migrating data throughout the data lifecycle are archiving and tiering.
Data Archiving is a key aspect of data management; defined as the process of both identifying and moving inactive or irregularly accessed data out of live systems and into specialised long-term archival storage systems.
The removal of inactive data from the live systems can help to optimise the performance of resources, in high-demand, whilst specialised archival systems store information in a cost-effective way and ensure data is available for retrieval when needed. Historically, archiving is most commonly applied to tape-based media which must then be securely stored in a storage facility, be this on or off-site. However, as cloud solutions become more prevalent, cloud archiving is presenting a more dynamic form of data archiving, utilising the power of cloud. Cloud based archiving services provide a data storage environment optimised for archiving data while remaining secure and compliant with data protection laws (assuming you pick the right vendor).
Data tiering is the process of assigning different categories of data to various levels or types of storage media, often with the goal of reducing total storage costs. Tiers are determined by performance and cost of the media, and data is ranked by how often it is accessed. Tiered storage policies place the most frequently accessed data on the highest performing storage. Rarely accessed data goes on low-performance, cheaper storage. Storage tiers are often aligned with a stage in the data lifecycle.
How do they differ?
Simply put – archiving and tiering should work hand in hand. Data tiering could, in fact, be seen as a more advanced form of data archiving. The movement of data into separate storage media, dependent on how often data is needed to be accessed, is a good way of structuring data. Unstructured data poses a threat to organisations opening them up to data breaches. It is imperative that organisations have a basic understanding of what data they have and where it resides within an environment. It is important for organisations to ensure that new data is structured in a way that can be managed and administered correctly.
A solution that doesn’t maintain a catalogue of tiered files can potentially lose files; when implemented well, tiering solves the file data problem: it allows for seamless access to old files when needed, without having to constantly back up those files. It makes file discovery for legal reasons easy and can integrate retention and deletion policies to maximize efficiency. It doesn’t limit you to your own datacentre, either and has the flexibility to move files out to the cloud if desired.
The main benefits of tiering data are around how data is managed through its lifecycle. This is in line with best practice data management policies and can also contribute towards data centre and storage management; often the success of tiering will be measured by cost impact. For Archiving the main benefit usually lies in the ability to keep data for longer-term retention and being able to comply with industry regulations and state legislation.
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