We are continually being bombarded with predictions as to the amount of information organizations will generate over the coming years, and that most of this data must be stored. Many of these claims are made by, or on behalf of, storage vendors wanting to sell more storage, but, while actual growth rates may be disputed, it is true that volumes of data stored by organizations are growing rapidly.
The two main reasons for this growth in volume are that more information is being stored electronically rather than in a paper format, and the requirement to retain information for compliance or litigation risk means that information has to be kept in a manner in which it can be discovered and retrieved.
In order to manage growing volumes of information, organizations have implemented enterprise content management (ECM) platforms and email archiving. However, these alone are not enough. Organizations need to think carefully about the type of information they retain.
For example, many companies implementing email archiving solutions elect to retain all emails indefinitely regardless of the content, so that all spam emails and personal emails are retained alongside business emails. In the short term, this has not been an issue because, with technologies such as compression and single instance storage deployed in email archiving solutions, the additional storage required to retain these non-business emails has not been excessive.
However, organizations are now finding that the sizes of their archives are growing to such an extent that they are beginning to cause storage problems. This means that organizations need to be more circumspect in the types of email they retain. Spam and personal emails could be given a short retention period and then deleted. Business emails could be given a retention period according to guidelines for the industry sector of the organization, or if there are not any, what it deems to be a reasonable period.
It is not just emails that organizations need to consider retention periods for. ECM repositories can end up storing vast quantities of information, and again companies should make an assessment of the types of information they are storing, and decide which types should be stored for long periods. Continuous data protection, which is now available from most back-up vendors, and which saves changes to documents and other unstructured information, can also greatly add to the volumes of information being stored, particularly if all versions of a document are retained.
Vendors have made it easy for organizations to store vast quantities of information through products such as ECM, archiving, and continuous data protection. If they are not to experience problems of very large unmanageable repositories, and also physical space issues as growing numbers of storage devices are required for this additional information, organizations must take action now to reduce the amount of information they store. Re-examining the email archiving strategy to ensure that only business-related emails that need to be retained are stored is a good place to start.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)