Study: Archiving is often misunderstood, inefficient

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The archiving of data continues to be misunderstood and inefficiently adopted by U.S. enterprises, research results from a new study commissioned by BridgeHead Software indicate. The study found a large portion of U.S. organizations may be jeopardizing their business operations by failing to archive properly while remaining complacent about regulatory compliancy.
    
Twenty-three percent of survey respondents admitted that they do not currently archive data. Asked hypothetically how long it would take to salvage an important file gone missing three months ago, 20 percent would not guess at the time it would take to find again, 10 percent say over a day, 2 percent say a week, and 6 percent say they would not have the foggiest idea how to find it.
    
There is an ever-growing amount of regulatory concerns regarding data storage, yet just 15 percent of respondents consider compliance to these regulations as a motivating factor for getting their archives in order, according to the study. Moreover, regulatory compliance is only a motivating factor for 58 percent of respondents, while 42 percent believe there is no need for processes to comply.

These numbers indicate that there are a large number of companies that do not feel affected by recent, high-profile legislation. However, Sarbanes-Oxley is viewed as the most influential for those concerned with regulation, while HIPAA reportedly impacts a quarter or respondents.

Of the respondents, 29 percent indicate data growth is a driver for archiving, though 40 percent indicate disaster recovery/business continuity as the fundamental driver. 

Manual archiving is the most prevalent archive process, but with a strange twist that suggests a misunderstanding of archiving. Twenty nine percent of respondents archive manually, 32 percent archive automatically using archive software and only 4 percent archive manually using archive software. However, 35 percent claim to archive manually using backup software, which is not an appropriate tool for tracking file-level data over long time periods and a red flag that calls into question the likely efficacy of the resulting so-called archive, according to the study.

Respondents indicate a variety of media are used, with tape representing 61 percent of use, and optical media in use by 22 percent. But disk, despite its widely understood vulnerability as a long term data storage medium, is also used for archiving by more than half of companies.
 
"This is interesting reading for the storage industry: despite the relentless use of the 'compliance' buzzword, it seems that, out in the field, only a minority of IT directors feel affected by new regulations," said Patrick Dowling, senior vice president of corporate marketing for BridgeHead Software, which commissioned the survey. "One hopes that they believe compliance to be the by-product of good day-to-day data housekeeping," he added.

"Despite the fact that many respondents mistakenly use the terms backup and archive interchangeably, this research shows there is a danger that many of the companies surveyed have neither the data protection nor the archiving systems in place that they believe they have," said Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner of Data Mobility Group.  "IT directors and administrators need to think outside the box and look for a comprehensive all round solution to data management to bring about corporate governance, compliance and efficient storage management."