Everything you wanted to know about backup vs. archive

Everything you wanted to know about backup vs. archive
(plus the how and why of data archiving)

Let me ask you two questions.

Firstly, do you understand the true value of data archiving for your (or your customer’s) organisation? I’m sure you get the concept of archiving, but can you articulate the significant impact it could have on your business?

Secondly, do you know how a Tape as NAS active archive solution can help you deliver on the value of archiving - for data centre efficiencies and long-term data retention? If your answer to these two questions is “no,” then read on!

What’s the difference between backup and archive?

Many customers still ask me: “Why do I need an archive? Can’t I just retain my backups?“ So as a level set, it’s important to understand the distinction between backup and archive strategies. As the chart below illustrates, archive and backup applications are distinct processes with different objectives and therefore impose different requirements on the storage systems that they utilise.

A backup is a secondary copy of production data used for restore or disaster recovery in the case of data loss or data corruption. By contrast, an archive is a primary copy of less frequently accessed information that has been moved off primary production disk to lower cost secondary/tertiary storage for data management or governance and regulatory compliance purposes. A backup dataset is ultimately overwritten whereas archived information is often a permanent record or data set stored without alteration or deletion for an extended period of time.

So we can see therefore why backup applications are not ideal for archive use cases. Archives are designed to be retrieved for a specific operational use. They therefore need to be directly accessed by applications and users and stored in a file system as opposed to being retrieved by a backup admin going through a backup data repository. Simply put, backups do not offer the visibility and accessibility that archives require.

Backup deduplication appliances also have a limited play for archive. As we have seen, an archive operation moves as opposes to copies data. The potential for deduplication is therefore minimised as the archives are already single instanced. This is particularly the case for rich media archives where the scope for deduplication is negligible.

The best archive platforms should therefore scale to multi-petabyte capacities, be affordable, offer high reliability, durability and data integrity and deliver simple integration.

Why archive?

There are two distinct data growth and data usage dynamics that are putting pressure on the enterprises’ ability to manage data economically and efficiently. The growth of unstructured data - such as documents email and video - continues at a rapid clip. 80% of this data is rarely or never accessed within 90 days of creation. However, the business value of much of this data means it still has to be retained and readily available over extended periods of time.

So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to maintain this infrequently accessed data on relatively expensive production Tier-1 storage infrastructure that is designed for high IOPs and low latency. It makes more sense to move it to archive storage designed for low cost long-term retention.

Imagine the efficiencies and risk reduction you could achieve by moving this static data from your Tier 1 production environment to an active archive optimised for easy access, low cost and reliable long-term retention? Primary storage budgets go further, performance improves, compliance requirements are addressed and new analytical doors are opened.

HP StoreEver Tape as NAS (tNAS): combining the ease-of-use of NAS with the economics and long-term retention of tape.

An active archive is a repository for content that infrequently changes, and that is not accessed regularly, but which has ongoing business value. The intention of an active archive environment is to make all content appear to be online, while leveraging lower-cost storage technologies, such as tape, to store data for periods of time that may span years or decades.

HP StoreEver Tape as NAS, or tNAS, creates an active archive by combining the performance and ease of use of NAS with the reliability and low cost of tape. It does this by presenting HP StoreEver tape libraries as a standard network share or mount point using Windows or Linux file sharing protocols through a disk-cache front end. Users can easily save, search and retrieve data directly from the StoreEver archive.

The tNAS environment makes all content appear to the user as online, even though the data is stored on tape. No tape media management or administration is required, and data is accessed from standard subdirectories in your familiar operating system interface. This continuous accessibility is why Tape as NAS is superior to using traditional backup tools for archiving data. tNAS is also seamless to your workflow, allowing a large range of applications to read and write data to a low cost and reliable StoreEver tape-based archive without directly supporting tape libraries and protocols.

Archive with tNAS - and reap key business benefits

The HP StoreEver Tape-as-NAS solution provides a disk-like NAS interface to lower-cost tape storage effectively making an entire tape library look like a NAS with enormous capacity. This comprehensive, tiered and converged active archive architecture - spanning software, disk and tape - helps you save time and money while reducing risk.

Dig deeper

Read the following blogs for more information

Unclog your HP 3PAR StoreServ array with an HP StoreEver Tape-as-NAS solution

The Value of HP StoreEver Tape as NAS for the world’s number one car auction brand

Watch these videos

The Business Value of HP StoreEver Video

HP StoreEver Tape for Archive Video

Simon Watkins

Simon Watkins  Simon Watkins

WW Product Marketing Manager, Backup, Recovery & Archive (BURA) HPE Storage

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