Data Archiving Best Practices - Post Two

Posted by Dustin Smith, Chief Technologist
November 12, 2013

Last week, we introduced the first blog in this two part series on data archiving best practices . We discussed how archiving is largely about control—knowing precisely what data you have, where you have it, and then making sure you have it at the right place, at the right time.

The first two tips for effective data archiving are to…

1. Leverage Storage Resource Management Tools to Improve Budgeting and Long-Term Planning

2. Implement and Email Archiving Strategy to Save on Backup Costs and Avoid Legal Trouble

Here are the remaining three data archiving best practices…

3. Implement Information Lifecycle Management to Prioritize and Store Data According to its Value

When you implement information lifecycle management (ILM), you effectively store your information in a manner consistent with the value of the data. All data maintained on storage networks has a defined lifecycle. This lifecycle identifies the way information travels through an organization from its creation to its archival and removal. The exact steps in data lifecycles largely depend on organizational policy, though data generally travels through three stages:

  • Stage 1: Creation/Acquisition of Data. During the creation of data, both data availability and data value are extremely high.
  • Stage 2: Publication. The value and availability requirements of published data, whether printed or accessed through other means, often depend on the content of that data.
  • Stage 3: Retention and Data Disposal. The length of time an organization archives and retains information depends on the nature of the data. However, increasing federal regulations, standards, and compliance measures often govern how long organizations must keep certain types of data.

The changing importance of data and the requirement for data availability create problems—it is costly to store all information on expensive, high-availability Tier 1 storage systems. At some point, organizations must shift at least portions of corporate data to less expensive storage media. However, that merely raises the questions, “What data do we move to cheaper media? And when do we move it?”

ILM provides a strategy for data storage management throughout the information lifecycle. It identifies the processes and technologies that determine how data flows through an environment. Information path management is another consideration with ILM organizations that are unlikely to offload all rarely used data to cheaper storage unless they can still access the data reliably, if needed.

4. Ensure Data Has the Proper Privacy Controls to Protect Your Data and Your Privacy

Data protection and privacy continue to be a tremendous focus and risk for IT communities. While companies make great strides protecting data privacy in production application environments, they often overlook implementing similar strategies in non-production environments such as testing, development, and training.

Reliable, safe, and effective mechanisms for securing data at rest require the adoption and rigorous execution of well-defined processes for handling keys used to encrypt data and keys used to safeguard the data encryption keys. Key management is a comprehensive term that covers these controls—including the creation, distribution, deployment storage, transmission, and destruction of keys used to encipher data.

5. Establish a Data Retention Policy

Data retention policies are a critical component of data archiving. Once you have a data retention policy, enforce it for all the information you have on your network. You should also record the retention periods, both for distribution to users and as part of the legal defensibility record. The retention schedule doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it should include specifics about the various categories and associated retention periods. When creating a written schedule, organizations should focus on two main criteria: the maximum retention periods and data distribution.

As part of a data retention policy, you should set minimum retention periods and maximum retention periods, in order to avoid over-retention. You can either include specific maximum retention periods for each category, or you can include a general clause that when the minimum retention period expires, the company no longer retains the data. This maximum retention period should also address the disposal of any currently retained data, including information archived under an interim infinite retention period.

Once you establish your archival retention periods, distribute the information to all users, both to communicate policy and to address the storage habits of individual users. In cases where individual employees use a variety of different email programs or in cases where it is common for users to archive e-mail messages, the retention schedule should make clear that this is not “retention” for purposes of the organization.

These data archiving tips can help you gain the control you need to effectively trim down your essentials and archive your rarely used content. Once you accomplish that, you can help your company trim costs by reserving the more expensive storage for more frequently accessed data. As always, share your tips and best practices by dropping a comment below.

About Dustin Smith Throughout his twenty-year career, Dustin Smith has specialized in designing enterprise architectural solutions. As the Chief Technologist, Dustin is responsible for the strategic direction of aligning the company’s growing consulting services with the client challenges he finds in the field, and he works closely with his regional architects to design new programs to address these issues.

Filed Under: Data Archiving

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