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Steve Pao is CMO for Igneous

Three Big Misconceptions About Secondary Storage

An effective archiving solution must offer fast restores so both IT and business users can feel confident archiving data.

Steve Pao is Chief Marketing Officer at Igneous Systems.

Secondary storage continues to evolve as hybrid cloud goes from novel approach to standard best practice. Protecting unstructured data through backups and archiving is critical for enterprises for a number of reasons, including securing intellectual property in the event of a worst-case scenario.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst is a smart strategy in life and on the job. However, misconceptions cause many enterprises to approach secondary storage with caution instead of with the enthusiasm I believe they could – and should – have about it, especially given the significant money savings from offloading data from pricey primary storage.

In my experience talking with enterprise executives, three big misconceptions about secondary storage prevent them from welcoming its many benefits:

Misconception #1 – End Users Can’t – Or Shouldn’t – Be Involved

When it comes to data storage decision-making, many enterprises don’t tap the expertise of those closest to the data – their business users. As a result, sometimes these organizations don’t archive inactive data at all, keeping data that is never accessed on expensive, higher performance storage.

Other companies try to automate retention policies on performance storage. But their automated policies are either too conservative to achieve the desired cost savings, keeping data in performance storage that doesn’t need to be there. Or, they’re too aggressive, confusing both users and applications.

Even when enterprises recognize the value of partnering with business users on data storage, they are limited by complex storage systems that aren’t end user-friendly.

But these reasons shouldn’t block enterprises from the cost savings of offloading data to secondary storage.

As the subject matter experts on their data, end users are valuable partners in making the right decisions for the business. They know best which data can be archived and which data should stay on primary storage. Involving them can pay off big for the business.

Misconception #2 – Archive Data And It’s Lost Forever

The great void. A black hole. The big abyss. Whatever nickname IT professionals give to data archives, these names illustrate IT’s frequent belief that once data needs to be “restored” from backup media, they’ll discover it’s gone forever.

Most enterprise executives don’t care about backup or archives; they care about the access and restores.

For example, one of our customers a large Silicon Valley-based software vendor used to keep all customer-created files for reproducing software defects in higher-performance primary storage. The reason? The company needed to occasionally access and restore this data to validate that known defects hadn’t returned.

Data recovery wasn’t possible with traditional backup software and tape archives so the enterprise moved these test cases into a lower-cost secondary storage tier that let it access data on-demand, and restore the data to high-performance primary storage when necessary.

What good is archiving data if there’s no way to ever get it back? With a black hole impression of secondary storage, it’s no wonder that some enterprises don’t archive most of the data that can be archived and pay for more primary storage than they need.

But archiving data and accessing data should not be mutually exclusive. An effective archiving solution must offer fast restores so both IT and business users can feel confident archiving data.

Misconception #3 – Secondary Storage Is Very Complex

Because primary storage is on premises and secondary storage often involves tape archives, offsite vaulting, and even replication to other data centers and the cloud, enterprises may regard backup and archive as less tangible and more challenging to manage. This tendency to view secondary storage as prohibitively complex makes sense when you consider traditional secondary storage systems.

While primary storage usually amounts to file systems in the enterprise data center, complex legacy secondary storage options usually involve multiple systems, requiring multiple software licenses and featuring everything from tape robots and offsite vaulting services to silos of replication policies. Complex? No doubt.

In contrast, an effective and modern secondary storage solution takes away the complexity and makes secondary storage even more simple than primary storage. A simple and seamless user experience has a lot to do with that. So does cutting out all the required pieces of the secondary storage puzzle. And eliminating silos and tapping the benefits of cloud helps, too.

I hope this article has busted a few of the common myths about secondary storage. Just as you wouldn’t judge the complexity of typing based on a typewriter, you’ll be missing out on savings opportunities if you judge the difficulty of backing up and archiving data based solely on traditional secondary storage.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Penton.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.
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