My next-door neighbor has a two-car garage and a large shed in the backyard. In the twenty-plus years we have lived next door, they have yet to park a single car in their garage. The garage is overflowing with all manner of yard equipment, winter tires, retired exercise equipment, and the odd piece of furniture. The shed is also packed. They own a snowblower, I often lend them ours because they can’t access their own. Unfortunately, many organizations handle file management in a similar fashion.
Most corporate file shares are overflowing with files long ago abandoned. Most peg the amount of ROT (redundant, obsolete, trivial) files to be at least 80% of the total under management. A good number of these were obsolete days after being created, over 95% within 90 days. Finding specific files, or files containing certain information becomes complex, as they tend to be spread out in various islands of storage. Some on personal devices, some exist in on-prem file shares, while others are in Google Drive, Dropbox, or personal OneDrives.
Lack of control has led to a huge cost drain. Gartner estimated that the average cost to manage 1 TB of primary storage was $3,351 annually. That number does not capture the cost of backups, data replication, or other technologies. The vast majority, 79% of managers and professionals in an EMC survey listed storage management as a major pain point. Yet file archiving (really most information lifecycle management) gets little attention within corporate IT and, understandably, no attention by business users. After all, they assume IT is “handling it”.
Beyond storage, there are compliance issues in play. Indeed, regulatory change and heightened regulatory scrutiny are consistently ranked as the number-one business risk by C-suite executives. That is not to say all regulatory issues are IT/data related but they are certainly the lowest hanging fruit. File retention, legal holds, and advanced search are all possible. After all, the organization could be held liable not only for the files you didn’t keep, but also the ones you kept longer than legally required.
The good news is that files are relatively simple to organize and manage as they are self-contained and carry their own metadata, like creation date, last modified, and last accessed time. All of which can be evaluated for automatic management. For this reason, file archiving, while not sexy, has one of the fastest returns on investment.
The foundational element for any file archiving strategy is the repository itself. Can it deliver on the promise of lower costs? Can it provide additional functionality that helps with compliance, security, file sharing, and advanced search? Certainly, users and organizations are becoming more and more accepting and trusting of cloud-based object stores. Cloud storage, in and of itself is not enough. To implement a successful file archiving strategy, the key will be to make the process as silent as possible. Indeed, if end-users were not even aware of the strategy, you can call the process a success.
A cloud-based archive repository checks at least one box, cloud-scale. But how does that help with other requirements such as retention and legal hold compliance, eDiscovery and advanced search, file-sharing, or application integration? The answer is, of course, not much. What should be considered is a relatively new, Archive-as-a-Service. These provide a fully managed repository experience any organization will want as the foundational building block of their file archiving strategy. These new services should offer the following:
- Centralized Administration
- Governance (i.e., Retention & Legal Hold policies)
- Security in the form of role-based access and end-to-end encryption
- Built-in data protection and availability
- Easy, self-service folder/file organization and management
- Access files from anywhere
- Advance search across file metadata and content
- File categorization, tagging, comments, sharing
- API access to support integration with existing applications or collaboration tools
- Bulk ingestion and support for any file type
There has never been a better time for the IT organization to get an easy win by implementing a file archiving strategy. While there is upfront work to be sure, the choice of a repository is the key foundational piece to the strategy. Cloud-based Archive-as-a-Service repositories can significantly lower the cost and speed the time frame for implementing a strategy with one of the fastest returns on investment that IT could undertake.
About the Author:
Charlie Garry has 30+ years of experience. He is a former VP and Service Director of Infrastructure Research at META Group. Director, Product Manager for Oracle database. A founding member of Divine Interventures and a VP of Infrastructure at Platinum Technology. He is currently a Sr. Director for Solix Technologies, a Silicon Valley-based software, and services firm.