Over the past several decades, the world has become increasingly reliant on digital technology. Massive amounts of data are being created, shared, and stored by organizations around the globe, every day. This influx of digital data has been incredibly beneficial for businesses, yet also challenging -- specifically in regard to storage.

The value of data changes over time; a file that is important and frequently accessed one week, may be completely dormant the following month. Yet, organizations still may want to hold on to that file, in case they potentially need it in the future.

Traditionally, in these circumstances, organizations would manually move data to different tiers of storage, as its value fluctuated. For example, a video file that hadn’t been accessed in two months was moved by a storage administrator from primary storage to secondary storage or archive. However, as more and more data has been created, this system has proven to be complex, unreliable, and time consuming. Organizations realized that moving data manually is a cumbersome task, and also that when data is moved to a deep archive, it is often very difficult to find and retrieve.

What is an Active Archive?

Active archive iconAn active archive is an intelligent repository that enables organizations to store the right data, in the right place, at the right time. It is compatible with many different storage systems (i.e. flash, disk, tape, cloud) and automatically moves data to appropriate storage tiers, based on both the value and accessibility of the data, and the speed, cost and capacity of the storage. However, regardless of what tier data is stored to, it is always quickly searchable, finable, and usable.

Active archives are collaborative solutions, comprised of both software and hardware components. While there are multiple storage systems at play within an active archive, the infrastructure is presented to the user or organization as a single entity. The software layer enables applications to interact with data throughout its lifecycle, and on any level within the storage hierarchy.

How Does an Active Archive Work?

Picture an active archive like a stacked pyramid, with primary storage on the top (i.e. flash / performance disk), secondary storage (i.e. capacity disk) in the middle, and archive or cold storage (i.e. tape) on the bottom. An intelligent abstraction layer surrounds the outside of the pyramid, extending a file system across the entire storage infrastructure.

Data that is frequently accessed is stored on the higher performing storage media. As it is accessed less frequently or becomes of less value, the active archive software automatically moves it to colder tiers of storage, saving the organization time, space, and money.

Regardless of where a file is stored, an active archive enables employees to easily and quickly recall and retrieve archived data as needed, without intervention from IT. It also helps maintain the integrity of an organization’s data, by monitoring the authenticity of files throughout their lifecycle. This can be important when it comes to meeting company policies, industry regulations, or federal compliance laws.

How an active archive works

What Are the Benefits of an Active Archive?

While there are many benefits to implementing an active archive, some of the most notable include:

Simple

In the past, moving data between tiers of storage was a manual process, performed by an organization’s IT administration staff. As organizations began producing more data, they realized this process was far too complex and no longer feasible. The principle of an active archive was developed to automate the process of moving data to different storage tiers and eliminate the need for IT support. Regardless of where data is stored, an active archive makes it searchable and retrievable by an organization’s employees, through automation, policy-based migration, and intelligent data management.

Cost-Effective

Back when moving data to different tiers of storage was a manual process, it was difficult to determine whether data was being stored in the most efficient, cost-effective way. Active archives automatically move data to the appropriate tier, based on policy, and that data’s value and accessibility. Data that is no longer being frequently accessed is moved from higher performing, more expensive storage to slower, more affordable storage, freeing up space and resources. This helps optimize your storage infrastructure throughout your data’s lifecycle and achieve greater efficiency, resulting in cost savings.

Flexible

Active archives are incredibly flexible. They are compatible with any storage type -- flash, disk, tape, cloud, file, block and object storage -- and support data on-premises or off-premises, online or offline. They also make it very easy for organizations to expand and grow into the future. As an organization’s needs evolve and use cases change, an active archive enables them to seamlessly integrate new technologies and/or storage capacity. As data scales, active archives continue to provide the same ease of management, regardless of how much data is being stored across the infrastructure.

Active Archives and Edge Computing

More and more data is being created at the edge these days, and organizations with these small sites are faced with unique challenges when it comes to gathering, processing and managing that data. These challenges range from being located in remote or harsh locations, to having dozens to thousands of sites to manage, to bandwidth and latency issues, to having little to no technical support on-site.

In addition, organizations at the edge are now regularly bringing in massive amounts of unstructured data, and struggle with determining which files should be kept or removed. A file that might seem useless initially may be of great value later on. These organizations need intelligent storage solutions that can automatically identify, separate, and store their data to the appropriate tiers of storage.

Organizations that are dealing with edge computing can benefit greatly from the implementation of active archive solutions. They enable intelligent processing of data at the edge, allow for quick decisions and future insights, and provide for fast retrieval of data. They also allow for data to be moved from the edge to the proper storage tier -- in the cloud or at a central data center -- based on expected use, value, and policy. With the amount of unstructured data continuing to grow, and the potential high future value of video, images, audio, and other data, an active archive solution is an incredibly viable option for the edge.

Interested in learning more? Check out this blog from the Active Archive Alliance, written by StorMagic’s Jim Porter, “The Edge is Where IT’s At.”

StorMagic ARQvault and Active Archive

StorMagic ARQvault is the industry’s first Active Intelligent Repository. It provides organizations with a simple and flexible solution, to address the challenge of capturing, storing, and using ever-increasing volumes of unstructured data. ARQvault enables customers to gather data from anywhere, store it forever, and find it fast -- all at a reasonable cost. Unique features of StorMagic ARQvault include:

  • ARQvault is a collection of vaults creating a federated repository. ARQvault software combines different and distributed storage resources into an integrated system shared across the network. Vaults consist of a server, storage, and ARQvault software.
  • ARQvault is active. Secondary storage, such as LTO tape libraries and Sony optical systems, cloud storage, and even offline storage are all an active part of the repository. ARQvault knows where all the data is and can actively seek, find, and retrieve any data in real time.
  • ARQvault is intelligent. ARQvault uses policies to automatically move data to different storage tiers and creates low-resolution proxies of high-resolution video, audio, and image files for fast search, playback, and viewing. The use of metadata and customizable fields and integration with analytics packages provides for rich data analysis and discovery of new relationships or business assets.

ARQvault addresses the challenges and requirements of several different environments. Specifically, ARQvault modules provide enhanced functionality and integration for video surveillance, digital evidence management, and media and entertainment use cases. Visit the following page to learn more about StorMagic ARQvault solutions.

Earlier this year, StorMagic joined the Active Archive Alliance, a group that provides end-users with technical expertise and guidance to design and implement modern solutions for data growth challenges. For additional information about the Active Archive Alliance, visit the alliance website.