In today’s digital age where data is a sensitive commodity that grows at an ever-increasing pace, managing it effectively is paramount. Data archiving is a term you might have heard, but do you really know what it means?
Let’s dive into the world of data archiving, what it entails, and what sets it apart from other data management practices.
Definition of Data Archiving
So, what is data archiving, really?
Data archiving is the systematic process of storing data for the long term, with a primary focus on preserving it for future reference and compliance purposes.
It’s like placing your important documents in a secure vault; you want to keep them safe, organized, and easily accessible when needed.
Data Archiving vs. Data Backup
One common misconception is that data archiving is the same as data backup. However, they serve different purposes:
- Data Backup: Think of data backups as redundancy for your enterprise data—you can protect against data loss resulting from system failures, corruptions, or human error by taking scheduled or manual snapshots of data that can be restored during emergencies. Backups are typically short-term and help prioritize quick recovery. However, they cannot be searched easily and do not provide a solution for regulatory and compliance needs.
- Data Archiving: Data archiving, however, is all about the long-term historical preservation of business complete, non-operational data. Legacy data can still be accessed, protected, and easily retrieved after archival, helping to satisfy legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements.
Benefits of Data Archiving
While there are many advantages to consider, primarily, data archival can:
- help organizations stay compliant with data retention regulations
- Cut costs like licensing, maintenance, and infrastructure and re-allocate resources
- improve operational performance
- ensure that critical historical data remains intact and accessible
- Allows you to retire and decommission legacy applications
Basics of Data Archiving
Understanding the basics of data archiving is essential before diving into the details:
- Data Identification: Start by identifying what data needs to be archived. This often involves considering regulatory requirements and the value of the data to your business.
- Data Classification: Categorize your data based on its significance and the retention policies that apply to it.
- Archiving Methods: Focus on actively archiving the production systems for system optimization, compliance, and cost savings. Consider legacy application retirement to remove old applications from your environment to reduce your risk profile, cost take out, and improve operational efficiencies.
Types of Data that can be Archived:
- Structured Data: Commonly recognized as a database or application. Row and columns make up many transactions and can be quite complex, with many tables and search requirements. Common structured data are SQL Server, Oracle, and PostgreSQL, but also include formats that you may find on AS/400 and other legacy systems.
- Unstructured Data: A file-based archival is considered unstructured data as opposed to a row and column (structured data) based system. These tend to be a content management system or outputs from a transactional system that needs preservation as part of a business record. Unstructured data tends to have less metadata but is larger due to individual files’ size, like Microsoft documents, spreadsheets, images, and PDF files.
- Semi-structured Data: Characterized by data with some organization or structure that does not conform to a rigid schema or data model. Businesses use organizational properties like metadata or semantics tags with semi-structured data to make it more manageable. Formats like XML, JSON, CSV, and EDI are examples of semi-structured content.
- Hybrid: Hybrid archiving is the combination of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data into a single record. The need to combine distinct types of data into a single transaction is typically needed for compliance, retention, and legal hold requirements.
Real-World Examples of Data Archival
Data archiving is not limited to a specific industry or a type of data. Here are some examples:
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): ERPs such as (SAP) run the core foundation of many large companies including financial, inventory management, materials management, HR, and others. These tend to be large and complex with thousands of tables and complex records. Such ERPs accumulate high volumes of data and have the need to be archived at set intervals, based on the rate of data growth.
- Financial Records: Financial institutions archive transactional data to meet auditing requirements and facilitate financial analysis. Typically, these are complex and range widely from application to application.
- Medical Records: Healthcare providers archive patient records to adhere to regulatory standards and support medical research. These records come from many diverse types of systems including medical records, financial, ambulatory, and back office. There is typically a need to pull a 360-degree view of the patient across multiple systems.
Why Is Data Archival Important?
Data archiving is more than just a best practice; it’s a necessity. Here’s why it matters:
- Compliance: Many industries have strict regulations regarding data retention. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines.
- Cost Savings: Archiving data that you don’t frequently access can significantly reduce storage costs besides enhancing performance on your primary storage systems.
- Data Preservation: It ensures that valuable historical data remains intact and accessible, supporting informed decision-making and historical analysis.
- Operational efficiencies: When you archive an operationally complete system, it can also be decommissioned to remove it from your environment. Saving license and maintenance costs, SME resources can be reallocated, and infrastructure can be reallocated to other projects.
Overcoming Data Archiving Challenges with Platform 3 Solutions
Organizations often face three shared challenges:
1. Lack of Focus: Not Having a Dedicated Team for Data Archiving
Many organizations lack a dedicated team, or the specialized expertise required for efficient data archiving. Without a focused approach, data archiving can become a daunting task.
At Platform 3 Solutions, we focus on archival and application retirement. We provide archive-as-a-service that includes a dedicated team of experts. Our professionals understand the intricacies of data archiving and ensure that your valuable information is handled with precision. With our specialized team, we will efficiently archive your data and let you focus on running your business.
2. Failure to Launch: Not Knowing Where or How to Start
The initial step in data archiving can be the most challenging. Organizations often struggle with determining which data to archive, how to classify it, and which archiving methods to employ.
Platform 3 Solutions provides a comprehensive roadmap for data archiving. Whether you’re new to the process or looking to optimize your current approach, our guidance helps you kickstart your archiving efforts. By outlining the basics of data archiving, offering practical methods, and sharing real-world examples, we equip you with the knowledge needed to embark on a successful archiving journey.
3. Funding: Financial Constraints
Use data archiving initiatives to take cost out of your business and help fund innovation and modernization efforts. Securing the necessary funding can be a significant challenge for many organizations. With a well-thought-out archiving approach companies can retire technology debt, reduce operational costs, and reallocate resources to meet other needs.
Platform 3 Solutions understands the financial aspects of data archiving. Our data archival solutions are designed to be cost-effective, ensuring that you get the most value from your investment. By leveraging cloud data archiving and efficient storage solutions, Platform 3 Solutions helps you optimize your budget while meeting data retention strategies and compliance requirements.
Data archiving is a crucial component of data management. It’s not merely about storing data; it’s about storing it efficiently, securely, and in a way that aligns with your business needs.
With Platform 3 Solution’s specialized team, comprehensive guidance, and cost-efficient solutions, organizations can overcome hurdles and unlock the benefits of efficient data archiving. Don’t let challenges hold you back—leverage our expertise to streamline your data archiving process and ensure the security and accessibility of your valuable data archives.
Get in contact with our team here to start your data archival journey.