Enterprise archiving has traditionally presented two major challenges: finding enough storage space to hold a staggering amount of data and implementing an effective discovery platform so you can find critical pieces of information when you need to.
Lately, though, a number of innovative solutions have hit the channel promising to alleviate concerns on both counts. Unfortunately, these systems require you to leave the comfort zone of your own data center and venture into the unsure world of the cloud.
Most of these efforts have been mounted by individual providers seeking to tap into the growing number of online and cloud-based storage applications. However, the trend has taken on the aspects of a full-blown movement with initiatives like the Active Archive Alliance, which seeks to house all archives online where they can be accessed more easily. So far, the group has drawn the likes of Compellent Technologies, QStar, Spectra Logic and FileTek, which adds a virtualization and data management component to the mix.
The one thing the cloud does provide in spades is scalability. For high data applications like e-mail, then, in-house archiving could become a particularly challenging prospect going forward. Companies like MessageSolution have been busy showcasing the ease at which they can mix online and on-premise architectures to accommodate multiple e-mail platforms, such as Exchange, Domino, Groupwise and SharePoint. The service also can accommodate both Unix and Linux servers and the various NTFS, NFS, NSS and Netware file systems.
However, there still seems to be some life left in archive appliances, which provide advanced feature sets in relatively small packages. ArcMail Technology, for instance, just updated its operating software to include a Web-based interface, more retention policy options and advanced discovery tools like stem- and phrase-based search. It also provides a 30 percent boost in performance, searching more than 10 million messages in a few seconds.
That kind of performance isn't likely to be duplicated on the cloud any time soon, but the online solutions do have the advantages of low cost and unlimited scalability. The question you need to ask yourself is: Are you comfortable housing your institutional data at a third-party facility in exchange for increased flexibility?