You've archived your data so well that even you can't get to it. How to organize and tag data for retrieval. Should you go with a Web-based outsource solution, off-the-shelf application, or pay someone to customize one for you?
It’s official: humanity is creating more digitized data each year than places to archive it.
It’s no wonder that so many technology companies are jumping on the band wagon to build massive data storage facilities. Even in this economy, data storage is a red hot business. That’s not likely to change given a recent study put out by IDC Research earlier this year projecting that the amount of digital data will increase tenfold by 2011.
Finding a place to put all our information is one challenge. But there’s another problem that looms just as large, especially for the small to midsize business with limited IT resources.
“Archiving is less about where to put data and more about getting it back when you need it,” says Andrew Reichman, a senior analyst from Forrester Research. To quote the Old Bard himself, “Therein lies the rub.”
How to organize and retrieve
The big problem for most companies is organizing its data in the first place and then finding the best strategies for retrieval. “Typically where they go wrong is that they start out with one, two, five people in the business sharing one drive and now it’s 10 years later with more than 20 people all dumping their files into that same drive with no thought to organization,” says Matt Dubois, managing partner of D2 Business Solutions in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Dubois would know. His company is often called in to clean up the mess. “We can spend up to two weeks full-time straightening it out. It’s not just confusing folders and subfolders or missing files that cause confusion. We had one client, a law firm, with an attorney frustrated that his file had not been updated by another employee. The employee claimed the file had been updated. They were both right. The problem was there was a duplicate file and they were working off two versions without realizing it,” says Dubois.
So for the business looking to spring clean their data storage, Dubois offers the following steps:
Where to put it all
According to a recent study by EMC, 53 percent of all small businesses are still backing up their data on tape. This can’t be very efficient when it comes time to find a file from three years ago that is now buried in a tape rack with a whole other filing system that may or may not make sense.
Tape is out, digital storage is in. Dubois sees most of his clients centralizing its data through products like Microsoft Sharepoint. Sharepoint is bundled in with Microsoft’s line of small business servers each costing just under $1,000. Businesses also have the option of storing their data with third party storage providers. Big name companies like Amazon and Google are renting space on their clouds at prices affordable to smaller businesses. There are countless smaller data storage vendors, as well. All have the added advantage of being off site. So if your building burns down or becomes inaccessible due to weather or a local disaster, the business can be up and running from a remote location.
Businesses shopping for a third party storage provider should be mindful of the features important for their business. How much space is needed? How often will it be accessed and by how many? What kind of security measures are in place to protect the data? How sophisticated are the retrieval tools to pull up files and can they be customized for your businesses specific needs?
If that sounds like a lot of questions to answer, consider this: it beats trying to find last year’s invoices under that Dallas Cowboy folder.