Guide to Message Archiving

Use e-mail archiving to take pressure off backups

By Manek Dubash, TechWorld

Backup volumes in many organizations have grown so large they are causing business disruption by tying up systems, storage, and network capacity and hogging valuable IT resources, according to a recent survey commissioned by storage management software vendor BridgeHead Software.

Over half (59%) of IT executives said that the volume of data they are forced to backup is disrupting business operations or will do so eventually, according to a survey of 472 IT executives in the U.K. and North America. And the problem is not going away, with 93% saying that their routine backup volumes are continuing to increase.

The problem is consuming IT resources for long periods, with 37% admitting that daily backups of primary data now take them over nine hours, while 19% said it took them over 12 hours.

Over two-thirds (84%) of those polled felt they could benefit by reducing the volume of data they routinely back up. Among the chief advantages highlighted were:

-- Less IT time devoted to backup and other business continuity processes (69%)
-- A reduction in the impact of backup and replication on network utilization and capacity (60%)
-- A reduction in disk resources devoted to data snapshotting, replication and mirroring (58%)
-- Reduced disruption to the live application environment (45%)

One of the most effective ways of reducing the pressure on backups is to take information that is static or seldom accessed and archive it off primary storage systems, according to BridgeHead Software CEO Tony Cotterill.

"Sixty-one percent of organizations in our survey admit that between 30% to 50% of data on their primary disk is unlikely to be accessed ever again, yet they are squandering time and resources on backing up and replicating this big chunk of static data. It's a very poor use of resources," said Cotterill.

BridgeHead said its research reveals that many organizations are starting to use archiving for specific types of data such as emails, motivated by compliance and disaster recovery. According to the company, a lot of archiving activity is currently championed by finance and other business departments outside of IT's control.

But to have a major impact on backup volumes, BridgeHead reckoned that there needs to be an IT-driven move away from point solutions or isolated archive appliances towards taking an organization-wide approach to archiving, allowing IT to retrieve control by archiving all data types across the organization from a single point.

"If you can take an organization-wide approach to archiving, then the volume of data you're taking off the primary store will start to reach a critical mass that will help call a halt to increasing backup volumes," said Cotterill.

The survey was part of BridgeHead Software's Annual Information Lifecycle Management Audit, conducted by eMedia on behalf of BridgeHead Software during August 2007. eMedia surveyed 324 senior level executives, IT managers, system and network administrators and engineers from North America and 148 from the U.K.

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