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Guest Post: A World Where Access To Stored Data Was Easy

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IELOGOThis is a guest post from Jim McGann, Vice President of Information Discovery at Index Engines – www.indexengines.com

At dinner recently a friend complained about the problem of syncing Outlook with his new iPhone. Apparently he was the first iPhone user on his company’s email network and there were some integration issues. By the time those issues had been resolved; however, his Outlook calendar had been totally wiped out. Logically, he put in the request to IT to restore it. Three days later, he paid IT a visit to find out why he was still without any calendar data. It turns out that his supporting IT manager had to restore his calendar data from a tape backup, and it ultimately took a shocking 44 hours to accomplish this.

Sadly, this isn’t an unusual scenario in the backup space. There is no doubt that tape data is secure and complete. But good luck to those that have to access it after the initial backup process. What if access to tape data was quick and easy? What might corporations be able to accomplish? Here are a few ideas.

Backup Software Conversion: The selection of a backup software vendor was probably made many years ago by the majority of organizations.  In the constantly evolving IT arena, this decision may no longer be the best choice for effective backup in your organization.  You may want to adopt new features available in a competing solution or you may not be happy with the expensive maintenance fees of your vendor.  If you could easily access backup data regardless of format, IT could convert to a backup solution that better fits your needs.

Backup Software Consolidation: Many organizations have dealt with a number of mergers and acquisitions.  During this process IT inherits multiple backup environments and is forced to maintain legacy backup infrastructure to gain access to historical “non-production” tape formats.  Think of the money that could be saved by retiring non-production backup platforms, if only they weren’t required to access this inherited legacy data.

Tape Remediation: Years of tapes have stockpiled in offsite storage vaults.  No policy existed at the time of their creation that outlined how to recycle these tapes.  Even if a recycling policy exists now, employing today’s policy to legacy tapes would require the knowledge of what files and email reside on these tapes and archiving or disposing of the content appropriately.  Easy access to backup data would make it possible to discover what data legacy these tapes contain and to enforce policy.  Remediation could significantly reduce, or even eliminate, offsite storage costs as well as legal liability.

Backfill an Archive:  Years of historical records on old backup tapes are rarely leveraged.  These records are valuable but are not readily accessible.  If they had the ability to easily access this data, legal and records management personnel could extract relevant content into an archive.  This would make the archive immediately useful rather than having its value slowly grow over time.

Become Litigation-Ready:  Are smoking guns hidden in old backup tapes keeping your legal teams awake at night?  Knowing what is contained on historical backup tapes allows legal to make informed decisions and to reduce corporate liability.  Easy access to data on historical backup tapes provides legal with the information they need to fend off litigation and support ongoing legal efforts.

This easy access isn’t just a pipe dream. You can escape the weeks, literally, spent restoring email calendars from tape. New technology is now available that unlocks data on backup tape.  Tape data can now be quickly searched and extracted without the need for the original backup environment.  Easy access to legacy tape data enables your organization to take advantage of the content and apply your corporate records or legal policy to the data to ensure good corporate governance as well as streamline your data center.

Bio: Jim McGann

Jim has extensive experience with the eDiscovery and Information Management in the Fortune 2000 sector. He has worked for leading software firms, including Information Builders and the French based engineering software provider Dassault Systemes.

In recent years he has worked for technology based start-ups that provided financial services and information management solutions. Prior to Index Engines, Jim was responsible for the business development of Scopeware at Mirror Worlds Technologies, the knowledge management software firm founded by Dr. David Gelernter of Yale University. Jim graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Disclaimer: This is a guest post covering generic storage issues.  This post has not been paid for in any way and the content has been freely offered.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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