Compliance archiving technology roadmap
Data archiving in of itself can be addressed easily enough by most storage vendor's products; however the complication is the data retention management aspects that introduce themselves in compliance versions of these products. Since compliance archiving products require you to apply a compliance policy against your data, you must ensure that the manufacturer has a roadmap for refreshing the technology without compromising the integrity of the compliance policy you have in place.
In all likelihood, well-established vendors will have well-developed plans in place with respect to refreshing/upgrading their technology in a way that ensures the integrity of your data and compliance policies. Less established vendors may not have a clear vision as sometimes their products are simply a reuse of existing product and, in the worst cases, with little or no foresight into what the next step might be.
Right now, data archiving is exhibiting a dot-com-like boom of sorts since the requirements of regulatory compliance have pushed this need into the forefront. In this current climate, there is a tumultuous sea of vendors -- some that will ride the waves and others that will sink into the depths -- until the waters calm under the banner of a stable few. Since archiving requirements, by their very nature, involve a long-term technology investment, the vendor selected should be the one that, among other things, provides the assurance that they will be in existence over the long-term as well.
The final differentiator is whether the technology you're considering is going to be industry recognized. This is especially important in the case of compliance archiving products. Should you decide to move to a different vendor's compliance archiving product, you must be able to prove that your data has been compliant during the move between technologies. Between well-established vendors, there is a good chance that technology migration is possible without compromising the integrity of your compliance policies. This is because well-established vendors tend to have well-defined and industry-recognized technology approaches. However, this is more difficult to ascertain for technology dispensed by less-known vendors.
The bottom line
I would say, when investing in compliance archiving products from less established vendors, be wary and do your homework. Not just with respect to the technology the vendor offers, but also with respect to whether the vendor has an industry accepted approach to their technology and whether the vendor, as a company, is being managed in a way that will ensure they will be around for at least as long as you plan to use their technology.
This was first published in December 2005