Survey: Data Archival Efforts Inefficient

Yes, companies are busy archiving growing data piles. But then again a majority are using poor techniques and management strategies and that’s putting valuable corporate information at risk.

In its 2007 Database Archiving Survey unveiled this week, the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) predicted primary production databases will grow 25 percent each year through 2012. The research firm predicts archived data will exceed more than 30 petabytes of database information in the same time frame.

Looking out further, ESG expects total worldwide database archive capacity to jump from last year’s 1,198 petabytes to 13,639 petabytes by 2012 — a 63 percent growth rate.

The ESG statistics are in line with recent figures from an IDC study that reports data requirements are growing at an annual rate of 60 percent. Today, that figure tops 45 gigabytes for every person, or 281 exabytes total (equivalent to 281 billion GB).

All of which means data archiving and retrieval will be even more critical in the future, ESG reported. Currently, 63 percent of archive database records do not meet government and industry regulations, the survey stated.

A 2005 ESG survey on database archiving wasn’t so gloomy. While archival processes weren’t terrific, organizations had a better grip on data piles, Brian Babineau, ESG senior analyst, told One reason is that the primary data at the time was e-mail.

“It [data archiving] was still manageable, and there were things companies could plug in to help,” he added. “Today it’s all about databases, and it’s time that the application owners and the database admins get together to determine good archive and storage strategies.”

The increased costs and risks associated with poor protection and retention will continue to increase if companies don’t adopt more efficient strategies, Babineau said.

“The first step [for IT] is to examine the factors around the data and the IT impediments. Do they have to meet privacy rules? Are they pulling data every day for e-discovery mandates? If yes they need to find one good solution,” he explained.

When it comes to archival approaches, 95 percent of businesses retain confidential information within primary database instances, and the majority of businesses are keeping archived database information for four to 10 years.

More than half of the content is inactive, and nearly half of all respondents indicate that their only archiving process involves backup copies on tape. Just 12 percent create a data subset on disk.

In addition, companies are actually creating more data headaches with some current practices. About 75 percent surveyed are creating secondary database instances for development purposes several time a month. Most of this data is retained for four or more years. Better policies around secondary database instance creation could cut costs and improve data security, according to the report.

ESG warned that such poor processes could lead to a company losing control of sensitive data, which can lead to serious consequences.

“The answer is taking a holistic approach to putting good data archiving in place. If you’re going to continue to rely on manual processes it just won’t work,” Babineau said.

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