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Handling data archiving requirements

Documation : 02 October, 2007  (Technical Article)
Vijay Magon, Technical Director of OITUK takes a look at the increasing demand for effective corporate data archiving.
As businesses across the globe cope with ever increasing amounts of critical data, the issue of efficient and integrated data archiving remains worryingly low on the agenda in boardrooms on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet with increasing corporate legislation and threats such as terrorism, it may be time for businesses to consider their options.

As the frenetic tide of new technology surges forward, companies of all sizes - from huge multinationals to start-ups - do somersaults to keep up with technology, spending millions of dollars and people hours ensuring they are ahead of the game when it comes to software, hardware and internet security.
But while IT departments are busy fortifying the company 'castle' against hackers and viruses, a critical area of the business is being, at best, insufficiently dealt with or, at worst, woefully neglected. This critical area is that of the storage and management of crucial company data. The lack of thought given to this was highlighted in a recent survey,* which revealed that 28 per cent of UK companies and 23 per cent of US companies do not archive data in any way. It is statistics like these that suggest that a significant minority of companies need to revolutionise their approach to data archiving and management.

Every company, whether it be a manufacturer or a cutting-edge digital creative agency, shares a common factor in that they both rely on the storage and transfer of key data to trade successfully. This takes the form of invoices, purchase orders, payroll records, financial statements and, increasingly, e-mails and web-based documents. Should this information be lost or destroyed, then the day-to-day running of any company would be severely affected. The knock-on affect would threaten the very financial viability of the business. The need for businesses across the UK to re-evaluate their disaster recovery policy was a key point in a statement by Sir Dibgy Jones, Director of the CBI, who said: "In a year that has seen mainland terrorism, a major incident at the UK's fifth largest oil depot and natural disasters too numerous to mention across the globe, everyone needs to spend some time re-assessing their business risk. The preparations you make now could help your business survive a catastrophic event, be it natural or man-made; continuity is vital and your customers will expect no less."

So given the magnitude of this potential situation, why are businesses so loathe to ensure adequate protection for their critical business data?

A common factor to businesses on both sides of the Atlantic seems to be embracing the correct solution to meet their needs. "Many companies seem to think of archiving and data storage as two separate entities. This view sees a need for a solution to archive past 'used ' data and 'current' or live data. This leads to a dislocated development of data storage and reduces the archive and storage facility to that of an 'electronic filing cabinet'. It also ensures that data archiving and its costs are seen as a necessary burden to be tolerated, rather than a valuable tool to add efficiency to a business.

This view of the data archiving issue is represented in the *survey results. Respondents have different levels of faith in their archive procedures. In the UK, 15 of the respondents didn't know how long it would take them to retrieve a vital file lost three months ago, and in the USA the figure rises to 20 per cent.
The solution to the data archiving dilemma faced by businesses lies in the implementation of an Enterprise Wide Information Strategy, according to Vijay. During the last 15 years, the company has worked with organisations and businesses to solve their data management solutions. Convincing businesses of the importance of an integrated data management solution is not just one of simple economics, but a case of winning the hearts and minds of customers.
We have made an evolutionary step in fusing together the twin processes of archiving data which needs long-term storage, and the 'real time' capture of newly-conceived documents, in an integrated repository. In doing this, users are not only backing up their systems in retrospect, but ensuring that storage of critical data is a continuous organic process.

If clarification were needed that data archiving solutions are not just for organisations which may face terrorist attack, the explosion and subsequent fire at the Buncefield Oil Depot in Hemel Hempstead is a prime example of how businesses can be affected by extraordinary events.

A system installed by OITUK played a pivotal role in helping Cambridge-based Addenbrooke's Hospital to keep its IT systems running after its server provider suffered critical damage in the explosion at the Buncefield. The situation was quickly resolved by staff switching to the e-MR system installed by OITUK. "When we lost HISS (normal records management system), we were working blind," said a hospital spokesman. "If the (paper) records were not in the library, we had no way of knowing where they were. Using e-MR, clinicians were able to see all the documents which, as you can imagine, proved useful, if not vital."

With the ongoing threat of global terror and increasing enforcement of corporate compliance in the form of the US Sarbanes Oxley Act, it would seem businesses on both sides of the Atlantic need to fully embrace and deal with the issue of data archiving management with the same gusto as other critical businesses - or ignore the issue at their peril!

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