With Archiving, Are You In or Out?


What to do about data archiving? Even while many vendors continue to tout their software platforms that enable you to establish your own internal archiving system, they are rapidly buying into hosted archive technology that lets you lease the capability from someone else.


So which is the better play? It basically comes down to two considerations: how much data you need to preserve, and how much you trust others to keep it secure and available. And it's precisely because each enterprise will have different answers to those questions that vendors are covering their bets by adding hosted solutions to their portfolios.


Just this week, Symantec boosted its own archival service offering with the purchase of the UK's MessageLabs for a cool $700 million. The company specializes in the long-term storage of e-mail and other unstructured data, even though it doesn't offer its own archiving per se. It rebrands a service from Fortiva, which itself was acquired by Symantec competitor Proofpoint earlier this year. So unless something changes here, customers signing up for Symantec's service will actually benefit Proofpoint's bottom line.


All of this is happening as Symantec rolls out the latest version (8.0) of the Enterprise Vault. Among the upgrades are improved single-instance storage reduction measures, expanded support for Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms, new search analysis and filter technology and a simplified installation and administration wizard.


Meanwhile, Nexsan is approaching the service angle a bit differently. The latest software version for the Assureon disk-based archive appliance offers the ability to provide in-house archiving as a service, either to your own organization or to the outside world. The system offers features like a virtual or federated content-addressable storage (CAS) archive that provides the ability to separate files in multi-tenant environments, plus extreme scalability of individual archives. The system also uses AutoMAID technology to reduce power consumption.


For a good look inside Nexsan's approach to archiving, check out this interview on eWEEK, in which senior marketing VP Bob Woolery lays out the "Five Dirty Secrets" of archiving. Among them, that most systems say they are at full capacity based on the object count, when in fact there may be plenty of storage left, and that most migration systems get bogged down by the lack of archive-level address designation. We can only assume the Nexsan either has or is working on a fix for these bugs.


Interest in archiving is being driven by two requirements: the sheer amount of data being generated today and the need to maintain it for regulatory and/or business necessity. In-house systems can accommodate multiple terabytes of data, but they are costly to acquire and maintain. And with the cost of online storage services dropping steadily, they soon may become too hard to resist.