Organizations around the world are amassing data at unprecedented rates. Analytics are key to extracting value, but the volume and speed of this data growth impacts storage management and costs. The colossal expansion of digital archives is highly diversified, spanning multiple verticals and applications, and presents significant challenges for the IT groups tasked with managing them.

In order to provide improved data access, reliability and optimise storage, while still remaining compliant with data protection regulations, many companies are starting to deploy active archives.

What is Active Archiving?

Active archiving enables organizations to exploit the full power of large datasets stored in numerous storage devices and locations.

An archive is a one-of-a-kind, unique instance of less frequently accessed information that has been moved off primary production disk to lower cost secondary or tertiary storage. The data resides in one place only and is typically a permanent record or data set stored, without alteration or deletion, usually for a very long time, perhaps years. An archive can be retrieved automatically when applications and users stored in a file system request it.

In an active archive, data is intelligently and dynamically managed across a high performance, optimized storage architecture comprising high-end flash devices, intermediate flash storage, cloud, disk and tape. The objectives are to free up primary space, optimize storage costs, reduce environmental impact, deliver on compliance legislation and provide maximum protection in the event of data loss, compromise and theft.

Intelligent software continuously tracks, manages and moves data up and down the storage tiers using rich metadata, indexes, directories, tags, and global namespaces to unlock archives and deliver high-performance search and retrieval across the storage spectrum.

the active archive model chart

What are the benefits of Active Archiving?

Saves money

While keeping data readily accessible across multiple storage types and locations, cool or cold data is automatically shifted from expensive storage tiers to progressively inexpensive ones. Around 60-80% of data will rarely, if ever, be needed again, so the system will place this in the lowest cost, LTO Ultrium tape tier – without limiting it’s retrievability.

Better performance

Primary storage is focused only on dynamic online services and applications and backups and restores are smaller and faster. SLAs also improve because you no longer have to keep backing up data you rarely use.

Extracts the full value of data

Active archiving will automatically classify and move data across multiple storage tiers and locations, with split-second timing. Even the oldest data can be readily accessed.

Right place, right time

Software determines the ‘best’ storage option (flash, disk, cloud, tape) according to the data’s relevance to mission-critical operations, how quickly it needs to be accessed, and the cost of storing it. Less time-critical data can be stored and made accessible using the cheapest platform for the task, such as LTO Ultrium tape, on-premises or public cloud, and object solutions. The right data is always in the right place at the right time and stored in the most cost-effective manner.

Improved control and security

Active archiving protects against cyberattacks by automatically placing multiple, encrypted copies of data in many different places, on many different media, off-site and offline. Ultimately, the last line of defense is LTO Ultrium tape storage, which isolates data from loss, damage and criminal attack by keeping copies off site and physically separate from the productive environment (air-gapped).

Frequently Asked Questions About Active Archiving

How does an active archive decide where to store data?

File-driven and workflow-driven policies automate data movement, migration, data protection, and retention within a transparent and accessible data structure. Complex rules as to what, when, how and why to move data into the archive are defined by IT administrators and automatically executed in software which tracks all content on all platforms, no matter where it lives. Users can search for content anywhere, even if it’s offsite, via an HTML browser interface.

How does active archiving ensure compliance in terms of retention, data protection and security risks?

Compliance legislation demands that the data you collect in the course of doing business needs to be discoverable at any point in time. This includes the daily welter of conversations in email, mobile communication and social media, all transactional data and any information held about customers and other stakeholders. Active archiving ensures reliable, permanent, searchable and cost-effective data retention in the lower tiers to support disaster recovery and enable fast, selective, on-demand retrieval in the event of any legal or regulatory challenges.

Can active archiving identify and delete redundant, obsolete or trivial data?

Data archiving and data deletion can work together to deploy policy-driven business processes to weed out and remove unwanted data, further reducing pressure on primary storage. 

The software continuously monitors the entire infrastructure to identify, capture and archive the right version of the data, deleting all other versions.

Where does LTO Ultrium tape fit in an active archive?

Less time-critical data that has to be kept intact, safe and for indeterminate timespans can be optimally archived onto LTO Ultrium tape, rather than more expensive all-disk (flash or HDD) solutions. The software can rapidly identify and restore the data for disaster recovery or to feed data-intensive applications.

LTO Ultrium tape storage meets the need for data protection, archival storage, and long-term retention for rapidly growing data volumes. LTO-9 tape can store up to 45TB of data per cartridge, scalable up to ??PB of data in a 42RU with transfer rates of up to 300 Mb/sec native.

Why not store the data on disk or cloud?

The low-cost profile and scalability of LTO Ultrium tape offers unrivalled ROI for near-line or active archive, with the bonus of having the lowest energy overhead of any storage solution. High tape density minimizes rack and floor space requirements, thereby cutting power, cooling, management, and administration costs.

LTO tapes have an archival life of more than 30 years. They can support a million passes and 20,000 write cycles per tape, and they have a mean-time-between-failure (MTBF) rating of 250,000 hours at a 100% duty cycle. Data integrity technology is built in with block-level checksums.

The open standard, linear tape file system (LTFS) makes searching, reading and accessing data on LTO tape cartridges as flexible and open as accessing it from a disk.

These features, together with active archiving, allow businesses to realise the value of their data in areas such as:

  • High performance computing
  • Healthcare
  • Life sciences
  • Business continuity
  • IoT (including autonomous vehicles)
  • Big data