Perfecting The Backup-Archive Balance: Your Guide to Building Complementary Backup and Archive Strategies
Data Growth: It Can’t Be Stopped
If there’s one universal truth that pervades all organisations, no matter the
size, sector or specialty, it very well may be this: Data growth is a force to
be reckoned with.
As ESG research notes, both primary and secondary/tertiary storage are
roughly 35% every year.1 And when you consider that for every 1 TB of
organisations can create between 4 TB and 6 TB of secondary copies for backup
runaway data growth can quickly push storage into unsustainable territory.
Just consider this example:
A company has 1 TB of primary storage and 4 TB of secondary
storage today. Thanks to 35% data growth, those totals will climb
to 1.35 TB and 5.4 TB, respectively, by next year. And the year after
that, the organisation will need to manage 1.82 TB of primary
storage and 7.3 TB of secondary data.
As you can see, the longer data growth goes unchecked, the worse
the situation will get. Even in businesses where IT budgets are on
the rise, they will surely struggle to keep pace with increasing
So What Are You To Do?
In this eBook, we’ll show you. You’ll learn how to balance backup and archive
best practices in order to more effectively — and appropriately — protect and
preserve your organisation’s critical data. Let’s get started.
1 ESG. “Backup and Archive Convergence Trends.”
Archiving Can Help
Tame Data Growth
Backups have been — and remain — a critical facet of every
organisation’s operations. They’re a fact of life, a task most
all IT administrators have executed at one time or another.
And yet, there is another, equally as valuable strategy IT teams could
be employing to protect and preserve information. But, sadly, it’s
something that rarely moves from “should do” to “need to do”
Even though IT managers will cite a lack of time or insufficient
budgets as a roadblock to building an archiving practice, the truth is
that businesses need archiving just as much as they need backups.
Remove some of the burden
from backup operations — move
data to an archive and there’s no
need to back it up.
Because archiving can actually remove some of the burden from
backup operations — once you move data to an archive, there’s no need
to back it up again. And data that’s been archived doesn’t need to be
included in hourly or nightly backups anymore, nor do you need to keep
adding duplicates of it into your secondary storage pool.
But when is it right to archive something and
when should you back it up?
To Back-Up Or Archive,
That Is The Question
Backup and archiving are in many ways focused on a
similar goal — retaining data in order to make it accessible
at a later date. That said, each is used for different
purposes by different people.
We typically back-up data in order to help the organisation achieve
a positive operational impact — namely, quickly restoring operations
in the event of a disaster. Individuals responsible for ensuring the
recoverability of production servers and storage systems are the
ones who frequently execute backups.
On the other hand, data is archived because it has long-term
strategic value to the business or may be required to satisfy an
external legal or regulatory request at a later date.
Application owners, business-unit heads and legal, risk and
compliance officers — individuals who view information as an asset
and want to preserve it for compliance, legal or operational
functions — tend to tap into the archive regularly.
Know The “Three Rs”
Wondering whether you should
back-up data or send it to an archive?
Let the “three Rs” guide you:
- Recovery backup.
a previous version of active data
following accidental deletion,
corruption, inaccuracy, etc.,
necessitates a backup.
- Retention archival preservation.
Retaining data because it has
inherent long-term relevance calls
for archival preservation.
- Reclamation archival grooming.
Removing stagnant data from
expensive primary storage and
sending it to an archiving platform
requires archival grooming.
The Problem With
When it comes to backup and archiving, there is no single
approach that covers both activities. In fact, the inherent
differences between the two mean that “backup-as-archive”
is not a sustainable strategy.
Think about it this way:
Servers rarely need to be restored using years-old backups. But
data from one, three or even seven years ago is often required
to address specific business or compliance purposes. The need
to retrieve this information to help the organisation execute new
strategies or uphold its regulatory obligations highlights the
importance of an archive.
Although a backup is created as a recovery tool, as time goes on, it
may remain the place to go to get an older reference copy of data.
And because of that situation, organisations tend to treat backups
as de facto archives.
What’s problematic about this perspective is that the data on backup
media has no real referenceable value — it was meant for software
platforms, not people, to read. As such, it cannot be trusted to
support the same goals as data stored specifically for archival
No Archive? It’s A Risky
It’s important to recognise the
financial risk associated with the
For example, maintaining it can:
- Cause production servers
and storage systems to
become bogged down by
considerable amounts of
data, leading to poor
resource utilisation and overly
long backup times.
- Lead to higher labour costs
during eDiscovery or
regulatory exercises, as
well as steep financial
penalties if the required
data isn’t found
Reaping The Value
In addition to helping your organisation preserve and quickly access data
for business, discovery or compliance purposes, archiving can also help
lessen the burden on the backup environment.
Recall our example from earlier — an organisation with 1 TB
of production storage and 4 TB of associated protection
storage, totalling 5 TB and growing at 35% per year.
If the company uses reclamation (or archival grooming)
to put older, inactive data — 30% in this instance — into an
archive, it will only need to manage 700 GB of primary
storage and 2.8 TB of protection storage today. Even with
35% growth, the next year will see 945 GB of primary
storage, 3.8 TB of secondary storage and 300 GB of
archival storage, totalling just 5.025 TB.
When you compare these totals to the one-year growth results from
the earlier example, the value of archiving becomes immediately clear.
In this case, archiving has reduced the one-year total by roughly 25%
(5.025 TB vs. 6.75 TB).
Achieving The Backup-Archive Balance
Is An Enterprise-Wide Effort
In order to build a strategy that uses backup and archiving technologies in
an effective, complementary
manner, it’s important for you to think about why your organisation is keeping
particular data sets and
who will use the copies.
To that end, be sure to:
- Involve business stakeholders, application and data
owners, legal and compliance personnel, records
management employees and IT staff in a shared
conversation about what should be kept, for what
purpose and how long
- Quantify the ramifications of doing nothing — of letting
storage grow unfettered and creating the potential
that you’re unable to retrieve the data requested by
regulatory bodies or required during eDiscovery
Successfully execute these two
tasks and you will have laid the
groundwork for a broader data
protection strategy that incorporates
both backup and archiving.