Data archiving is an odd practice at times. When big data is focused on every last bit of information, the idea of relegating any amount of it to outdated media can seem like a waste of resources. Add the cloud and you begin to see how out of place this concept can be.
Nevertheless, the need to retain data that has otherwise outlived its usefulness will remain as organizations submit to various compliance standards. The question then becomes: How can modern businesses reconcile their need to archive data while maintaining a modern storage environment?
Finding the Right Fit for Your Data
The first step toward future proofing your data archiving strategy is realizing old data doesn't have to be stored on old media. Some would counter with the fact that, as data ages, so does the media it sits on. Fortunately support now has an answer.
The trick is to combine the security and longevity of old technology like tape with new platforms that can bridge the gap to today. And modern storage technology has provided a few great solutions — namely onsite optical backups that can hold 181 PB (yes, petabytes) all the way to off-site, cold-storage services like Amazon Glacier and Google Nearline.
Choosing between these options will ultimately come down to the needs of your organization, the main factors being size of the dataset, privacy/control requirements and restoration parameters. The benefits of using a cloud service (from an efficiency standpoint) are even more obvious: You have less infrastructure to manage, and once the data is uploaded your maintenance obligations are practically zero. Using the cloud also brings with it an inherently streamlined path toward future upgrades. For exceptionally sensitive datasets, however, this can be less appealing. You might consider a hybrid approach to ensure your private data remains in your possession as ops grows.
Bringing the Cloud Home
In these instances, you'll likely want to stick with something closer to home. Thanks to the optical pieces mentioned above, it's entirely possible to create a cold data archiving strategy with this media that will age gracefully. All you need is a cloud and, more specifically, to create a layer of abstraction between the storage media and your live data environment.
When you stop to think about it, this is exactly what the cloud provides. For all you know, your data is stored on a mix of tape, optical and disk drives when it's uploaded. This media could change from one day to the next and the helpdesk wouldn't notice. The point? It shouldn't need to. By instead focusing on a flexible software layer between the archive and live data, the media it comes to rest on is interchangeable and far more future-proof.
Should you find your current media lacking, data should be securely transferred to updated media or cloud services with a solution that meets the compliance standards you're currently adhering to. A managed software layer can then be deployed to facilitate the transparent flow of data from live environment to cold storage.