Do you know where your data will be in 7 years?
Seven years ago, you had a pager or really big phone that did not get email. You watched analog TV and bought CDs and DVDs. Life and technology is quite different nowadays. You have a smartphone, hi-def TV, iTunes and Netflix. Can you imagine what you will have seven years from now?
You have no idea. The same is true in the IT world. Do you know what type of media your data will be on in seven years? You can guess, but you really don’t know. You are LTO4 or LTO5 today, but in seven years, you could be on LTO19 or even some new technology.
Point being: you have to plan the best you can for what you don’t know. You have to be able to predict the future. What you really have to do is invest in technology that also looks to the future and helps you roll your data forward in time.
What do I mean by that? It’s simple. To “roll your data forward in time” means your media is audited on a regular interval, verified and still viable. Your data can be restored because you have made sure the tape/disk can still be read and the data is not corrupt.
First, make sure your data protection product is able to “future proof” your data by auditing its backups. This process may sound simple, but it isn’t. Most vendors cannot audit their stores without re-reading the entire tape. Most vendors actually look at long-term archiving as just another copy of a tape.
Second, make sure your data protection solution treats long-term archive data differently than the everyday backup data. Long-term data must be nurtured over time. You cannot just cut a tape and put it on the shelf and expect to recover it in seven or 10 years. That is not going to happen.
Lastly, have a system that can migrate your data from one type of media to the next. For example, migrate data from LTO2 tapes to LTO6 tapes. This is not a copy, but a migrate. If you copy the data, it is a one-to-one relationship leaving most of the LTO6 tape empty. That is a waste of money. Migrating the data from LTO2 to LTO6 will allow it to be put on the same tape as other data. This allows you to ensure you’re using the tapes to their full capacity.
These three simple things are the building blocks to long-term data storage. If you miss one, it will bite you in the future. Think about how your product provides the ability to recover your data 10 years from now. Do you know how it would happen?