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How government organizations can benefit from active archiving

David Cerf (left) and
Floyd Christofferson

By David Cerf and Floyd Christofferson

Backup has long been thought of as the key technology for data protection, and historically it has been sufficient for most organizations. However, we have reached a point where we have so much data that organizations are left grappling with how to manage data growth, longer retention requirements and the need for real-time, online access to data to leverage the knowledge and information within their organization. 

The challenge typically lies in how to store massively growing data volumes at a low cost without sacrificing availability. Not to mention that government organizations are taxed with long data retention mandates and strict requirements for data protection. 

Enter active archiving 

An active archive is an online file and storage system that gives users real-time access to data stored for long-term retention. An active archive environment provides a simple file-based approach using technologies from a number of hardware and software vendors. In combining intelligent storage management with the best storage types for their workflow, users gain online or near-online access to all data, which ensures robust data protection, data portability and the lowest costs for long-term data preservation. 

Protecting data is at the forefront of any government office’s IT strategy, and to meet best practices, two copies should always be made, with one copy kept in a separate location. Active archive solutions ensure data protection by producing two (or more) copies of data on separate physical media, whether on tape, nearline disk, cloud or a combination of these. 

Active archive architectures can be configured so that one copy of the file, or tape, can be housed offsite for vaulting while the onsite copy provides active access to the archive -- especially important for organizations that live in areas threatened by natural disasters, such as flood, fires or earthquakes. The active archive process can be automated, reducing the need for IT administration to perform this function. 

This approach to data protection eliminates the need to back up archival data since it is already protected with multiple copies in more than one location, meaning data in the archive can be removed from expensive storage resources and free up space. 

One government entity in California deployed an active archive solution to help lower the cost of long-term storage, while providing data protection and online data availability. This video-centric organization has been maintaining video content for more than 20 years, and while some files aren’t accessed often, they cannot be deleted. Expensive disk-based storage resources were bloated, with no room to expand, and the budget was flat. 

By utilizing an active archive solution, the organization now meets demanding deadlines while all files are securely stored in the archive. Because the active archive bridges disk and tape to make an easy-to-manage and seamless solution, the organization was also able to eliminate thousands of dollars of additional purchases. 

Active archive brings flexibility, protection and access to meet mission requirements. Active archiving helps government agencies stay within their allotted backup windows, reduce costs and ensure availability of critical data. An active archive solution can be a single technology or a combination of technologies, depending on what makes the most sense for an organization’s environment, and its particular capacity and performance requirements. 

Additional information about active archives and their benefits is available at the Active Archive Alliance Web site, which comprises a group of companies dedicated to educating organizations on the role that active archives can play in gaining simplified, online access to all archived data. 

David Cerf is executive vice president for corporate and business development with Crossroads Systems. He can be reached at:

[email protected] 

Floyd Christofferson is senior product marketing manager at SGI. He can be reached at:

[email protected]


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