By George Florentine, VP of Technology
Data archiving requirements can be viewed from two perspectives: business requirements that trigger the need for data archiving and technical requirements necessary to carry out the process of archiving data itself. This blog provides an overview of the most common triggers that prompt organizations to archive data for business reasons. A subsequent blog will address technical data archiving requirements.
Triggers for Data Archiving
1. Eliminate Legacy Systems
One of the most common business requirements for data archiving is the need to eliminate legacy systems. The root cause lies in understanding the lifecycle of an application (Figure 1). A broad brushstroke of the application lifecycle begins with a business need and ideation on how to address it. A project is begun that includes selecting an application and configuring it. The application is then deployed and maintained during refreshes of the infrastructure.
As the application infrastructure evolves, some systems are replaced with newer ones or are found to be redundant. Yet the organization has an ongoing need to keep the data on those legacy systems, typically for business or compliance purposes. As a result, IT finds itself maintaining a growing application inventory. IT departments direct budget and support into maintaining an increasingly complex application portfolio and often don’t have a strategy for assessing it. Instead, IT continues to provide more resources to support various business units and a growing number of legacy systems. The result is an ever-increasing cost to “keep the lights on.” (Figure 2)
2. Reduce Risk
Inaction to address a growing number of legacy systems points to the second business requirement for data archiving: reducing risk. Risk rears its head in several ways. First, with no explicit process to assess applications, IT continues the development of redundant applications. There is no right sizing, and licensing costs grow as the application infrastructure continues to become more complex. Ultimately, the IT department risks losing the confidence of internal stakeholders as a business partner.
Second, legacy applications that rely on aging infrastructure degrade the responsiveness and velocity of IT. Infrastructure refreshes can fail because applications cannot be migrated to new environments, and SLAs and budget goals are not met due to continued support for aging infrastructure.
Third, many legacy applications are rarely used and run on old, fully paid for infrastructure. But a certain class of applications are intermittently used in business-critical applications, typically in the broad areas of regulatory compliance, audit reporting and legal claims against the company. Imagine the risk and financial impact to a business when a government agency does an audit, requires information going back ten years and the legacy application fails to start or can’t provide the information due to degraded infrastructure. Pushing legacy system data to backup technologies isn’t a solution, because data restores from long-term backup can fail. Financial and other consequences for failing an audit or not meeting compliance requests can be steep.
3. Recover Costs
As we see in Figure 2 above, unchecked application growth over time results in a never-ending increase in IT spend. In today’s deployment world, everything is cheap at the individual level – virtualization, compute, storage, and networking services. But when you have hundreds of poorly understood applications using thousands of servers, you start seeing high IT spends on legacy applications that provide an ever-decreasing value to the business.
Recovering licensing, maintenance, and support costs for legacy applications is the biggest driver of data archiving programs.
4. Speed Innovation
It’s a bit counter-intuitive but spending time and money on decommissioning legacy applications and archiving their data can directly speed product and market innovation. By recovering the costs associated with legacy applications, an organization can do more innovation with the same IT budget (Figure 3). This kind of cost redirection also improves the relationship between IT and business, moving towards an organizational relationship that forward-thinking organizations are striving to achieve.
5. Business Continuity
Many businesses shrug off the risks of running legacy applications because they’re infrequently used and don’t provide much immediate value. But if these old business applications are running on old, vulnerable operating and database systems, consider the ease in which a modern-day hacker could bootstrap a cyber-attack through these systems and then initiate wide-scale denial of service, data harvesting, or ransomware attacks against your production systems.
6. System Optimization
Finally, an important data archiving requirement is driven by the sheer volume of data being generated and managed every day by production systems. As the amount of information grows, performance of primary ERP, HR, finance, and other systems can slow. Rather than move business-complete data to primary storage, which can be costly, archiving it relieves pressure on core applications while safeguarding it in a cost-effective manner.
Whether your data archiving requirements are driven by one or more of these business triggers, you stand to achieve considerable return on investment for archiving business-complete data either from production or legacy systems.
In another blog we’ll address technical data archiving requirements.