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Demystifying Cloud Archiving & its Role in Business Environments

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FEBRUARY, 2019
Cloud archiving enables businesses to move large chunks of archival data from their on-premises infrastructure – reducing the cost of long term data retention and facilitating compliance to industry regulations. In this article we take a closer look at cloud archiving: the problems it solves for businesses, what it is, and what businesses can gain by setting up cloud archiving instead of the traditional in-house or offsite data archival model.
Cloud technology is relatively new and cloud archiving isn’t a part of the traditional business IT environment. So what kinds of challenges do businesses without cloud archiving face? Let’s sift through some of them.

Challenges for Business IT Environments without Cloud Archiving

Enterprise data can be classified into three major types based on access frequency and data of creation: hot data, cold data and archival data. In terms of volume, archival data is larger than the other two. This generates a number of challenges for businesses keeping their archival data on tape or on-premises. The following is a brief list of said challenges:

Large Storage Infrastructure – Large data volumes require more storage space

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IT infrastructures, that don’t employ cloud archiving, usually go for tape storage or off-site storage locations to keep their data archives. Considering the utilization rate of tape storage devices and traditional storage systems, this leads to the creation of large storage infrastructures. Large infrastructures have large carbon footprints and consume a consequent portion of the business’s resources: budget, power, cooling, maintenance, etc.

Cost – Large storage system generates large CapEx & OpEx costs

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Large infrastructures lead to all kinds of cost implications. Initially, the CapEx costs are huge. Additionally, when the data increases and the IT infrastructure runs out of space, the business has to deal with large CapEx costs again and the cycle repeats each time the storage space is consumed. Purchasing large infrastructures isn’t the only cost consideration, there’s more: OpEx. Large storage systems tend to consume a proportional amount of resources like cooling, power, maintenance, etc. Not to mention, the company has to accommodate for the footprint of the whole infrastructure as well. If the business keeps archival data on-premises, then the storage system will require large server rooms with controlled temperatures and environment. Even if the storage infrastructure is kept on an offsite location, it will still consume the same amount of resources and it may incur additional rent (if it’s on a rented building/space/location).

Higher Probability of Data Loss – It might end up getting lost in the data lake

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Traditional storage systems are difficult to manage, especially if they’re large in scale. It’s a challenge to keep track of all the data being stored in them. Bear in mind, we’re talking about traditional storage devices like file servers, tape storage, etc. These technologies need a complex array of tools to monitor, control and manage all the archival data. These kinds of setups have a higher probability of data loss. Let’s say the IT staff are maintaining an inventory list of all the data that’s being stored in the storage system and due to an accident or a malicious incident, they end up losing this list. Getting back on track and sorting all the data is going to consume time and money; and even then, they’re still likely to lose track of some of the archive data.

Slower Data Access & Mobility – Traditional storage systems are not as fast

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Large storage infrastructure plus a plethora of management tools can lead to a disastrous situation in terms of data accessibility and mobility. Imagine having to access particular files among hundreds and thousands of files. If users don’t have the right directory for the data, it will consume precious time and resources just to find a single file (because there are limits to how effective the search/find tools can be). That clarifies some of the challenges businesses face without cloud archiving. However, an even more important question arises after this clarification: What is Cloud Archiving?

What is Cloud Archiving?

Cloud archiving is similar to offsite data archiving. The only difference is that instead of storing data in a tape drive or server and then moving the storage device to an offsite location, the data is directly stored on dedicated cloud storage tiers. Examples of dedicated cloud archiving storage tiers include Azure Archive blob, Amazon Web Services (AWS) Glacier, StoneFly cloud etc.

Difference between Cloud Archiving & Cloud Backup

There are three major applications of cloud storage: Data storage, backup and archiving. There’s a difference in usage but the infrastructure at the backend is all the same. This confuses users and makes the line separating the three a bit blurry. Cloud backup is meant to ensure data recoverability and prevent data loss while cloud archiving is the storage of old files in cost effective cloud storage tiers. The access frequency for both cloud backups and data archived in the cloud is similar but the purpose of the two is very different. Data archives are rarely accessed. Backup files are only accessed when the original file is corrupted, lost, misplaced or maliciously deleted. Based on their usage and access frequency, both types of data are stored in different kinds of cloud storage tiers. Examples of dedicated cloud backup tiers are Azure Cool blob, AWS S3-IA, etc. To learn more about the difference between Cloud Archiving and Cloud Backup, click here: Difference between Backup and Archiving

StoneFly Cloud Archiving Solutions – Enterprise-grade Data Archiving

To facilitate a wide range of cloud archiving requirements, StoneFly offers data aware cloud archiving solutions. With StoneFly cloud archiving solutions, businesses can move their data archives to the cloud of their choice: public clouds like Azure, AWS, etc. and/or to StoneFly’s private cloud. StoneFly cloud archiving solution offers a central management system enabling IT staff to manage and control archival data with a single tool. With enterprise-grade data services, StoneFly cloud archiving solution enables businesses to be compliant to various industry standards. Examples include HIPAA/HITRUST, FedRAMP, CJIS, GLBA, SOX, FINRA, FIPS, etc. Services like automated policy based storage tiering facilitates users to automate data archiving and remove human error. StoneFly cloud archiving also secures enterprise archival data using encryption technology (before, during and after transit). In summary, this is what we’ve established so far:

  • Without cloud archiving, archiving data requires large storage infrastructure, incurs large CapEx and OpEx costs, has higher probability of data loss and makes data accessibility difficult and slower.
  • Cloud archiving is similar to offsite storage – instead of moving archiving data to an offsite storage location; users just move it to a preferred cloud storage tier.
  • Cloud archiving is different from cloud backups because one refers to the storage of old and rarely accessed data in the cloud and the latter refers to the creation of backup files that ensure data recoverability and prevent data loss.
  • StoneFly’s cloud archiving solution enables businesses to setup industry compliant data archiving in the cloud of their choice. With enterprise-grade data services like snapshots, encryption, automated policy-based storage tiering, and more; StoneFly cloud archiving secures enterprise data, reduces costs and simplifies data management.

Now let’s discuss what businesses stand to gain by setting up StoneFly cloud archiving.

Advantages of StoneFly Cloud Archiving

Businesses can lighten their storage infrastructure by setting up data archiving in the cloud. Here’s a brief list of benefits businesses get when they setup StoneFly cloud archiving:

  • Greater data access
  • Better data security
  • Reduced CapEx and OpEx costs
  • Compliance to industry regulations
  • Scalability and business agility
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Greater data access

The workplace is no longer fixed at the office building. Today’s enterprise-demands require business data to be available and accessible from anywhere/anytime. By setting up cloud archiving, businesses not only remove the otherwise needed large storage infrastructures but also make their data always available and accessible. IT staff can access the archived data from anywhere/anytime whenever necessary. Archiving data in the cloud also facilitates easier and secure data exchange between internal and external teams. Cloud archiving mitigates spoliation risk and eliminates the need for the physical delivery of data.

Better data security

Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and StoneFly deliver enterprise-grade data protection for business archive data. Client data security is one of the top priorities for CSPs; which is why CSPs invest large sums on ensuring maximum possible security for client data. With managed service providers, businesses get reliable data security; which is difficult to setup independently. This is also the reason why businesses around the globe are using cloud-based archiving solutions. As an added benefit, businesses using StoneFly cloud archiving solution offload the major part of their IT challenges to StoneFly; business resources such as IT, security, and personnel are then free to be focused on the core projects and operations of the business.

Reduced CapEx & OpEx costs

Cloud archiving facilitates businesses to lower up-front costs and control OpEx costs. Instead of investing large sums of money on required storage hardware, storage software, and dedicate budget based on predictive analysis of data growth; business can pay a monthly or yearly fee for the space consumed by their archival data. Setting up cloud archiving solution enables businesses to reduce the floor space consumed by their storage infrastructure and even decommission any dedicated offsite data archiving site. This directly impacts IT expenditures of the business.

Compliance to industry regulations

Cloud archiving enables businesses to retain archival data as required by industry standards like HIPAA/HITRUST, FedRAMP, CJIS, etc. With data services like encryption and snapshot protecting business data, it’s easier for enterprise IT environments to ensure that data is kept secure and away from malicious access. StoneFly cloud archiving solution secures data during transit and before and after transit. This ensures that business data is always kept safe and confidential (wherever necessary) – making it suitable for all kinds of industries (healthcare, finance, law, government, and more).

Scalability & business agility

StoneFly cloud archiving solution liberates business IT environments from file size and bandwidth size restrictions. Businesses can choose to scale-out their purchased storage space whenever necessary, without delay or disruption. The enterprise-level scalability of StoneFly cloud archiving solution frees businesses from fat provisioning (thick provisioning) storage resources in anticipation of data growth. Businesses don’t have to invest more than they have to; instead they can focus their budget on core operations. Another benefit of scalable cloud archiving solution is that it affectively addresses the challenge of data growth. Global data footprint is growing explosively – this applies to all kinds of data ranging from a single user data to enterprise data. It’s a challenge to accommodate and utilize this data. Scalable archiving solutions make it possible for enterprise IT environments to store and control the data, despite its continuous growth. With archival data in the cloud, data accessibility becomes faster and this in turn makes the business more agile. Unlike data archiving on tape that requires a number of tools, StoneFly cloud archiving offers a centralized management interface that facilitates management and control of the archival data using a single tool. This brief list clarifies what businesses stand to gain when they setup cloud archiving instead of the traditional in-house or offsite data archival model.

To learn more about StoneFly cloud archiving solution, click here: https://stonefly.com/cloud-archiving

To get a free trial or to get a quote, contact us. Send us an email at sales@stonefly.com or give us a call at (510) 265 1616.

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