Information archiving might not sound exciting but the revenue it can bring certainly is. It may become one of the hottest technologies in 2010.
Data archiving started with Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) and evolved into Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). Today it has turned into a more ‘elegant’ technology in its own right, one that is all about the long-term management of information.
It is no longer about just storing data, but organising and indexing it so it can be searched and made useful, protecting it when laws and regulations require it to be protected and erasing it on demand.
Behind the expected growth are drivers such as IT efficiency, cost reduction, business risk and compliance. According to IDC, the archiving software market alone will grow from $1.5bn in 2009 to nearly $2.5bn in 2013.
It is important to recognise that a backup is not an archive and an archive is not a backup. For example, an archive will almost certainly include search tools and probably some form of content indexing, while to find information in a backup you will normally already need to know where to look.
Similarly, you cannot use an archive to restore an application or system that has been lost, damaged or incorrectly updated. You can use one as the other, but this can be tricky. Resellers will help their customers better with a more effective data-protection strategy.
Organisations create archives to manage their stored information and data better or implement business processes such as data warehousing, e-discovery and compliance.
Much of the data on any storage volume is probably inactive – rarely accessed and unchanging but kept 'just in case'. This may include old emails or working documents from completed projects.
With regard to business processes the primary factor is regulatory compliance. Data must be protected, communications audited and retained in case of dispute or complaint; and when relevant information is demanded, it must be found and delivered promptly. A sound archiving strategy can support these needs.
Archiving also offers a way to consolidate information from multiple sources, whether they are different IT systems or different offices, and to make it searchable and useful.
These are all opportunities for the channel to introduce to end users the benefits that data archiving can offer, such as reduced costs and simplified storage management.
You must know where to start and which content types are critical to each customer.
Generally, a single archive for all data sources and automated data movement policies tends to be welcomed by most organisations looking to streamline their storage environments and reduce costs. So that can be a safe starting point.
Customers will need different policies to control and audit access to information, ensure data has been deleted, or verify if an email message has been received and read.
If a reseller sticks with a template for all its customers it will never become a strong contender in this market. A data archive should be dynamic, transparent and accessible so resellers looking to make a break into this market should build active archives and not data graveyards.
It would be a false economy for the channel to try and make a quick buck.
Andrew Brewerton is EMEA technical director at BakBone Software
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