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Backup and archive: Is archiving software necessary?

Brien Posey discusses backup and archive software, as well as e-discovery in this Expert Answer.

Can you use backup software to create an archive, or do you need an archiving-specific product? And how important is e-discovery functionality when choosing archiving software?

Every backup application offers its own unique capabilities. Certainly, some backup applications feature archiving capabilities. NetBackup, for example, offers both backup and archive capabilities within a single application.

However, most backup applications do not natively perform full-featured archiving. Often, backup vendors offer a separate product that is specifically designed for data archiving. For example, CommVault Simpana is primarily a backup and recovery solution, but can be extended to support archiving through the use of an add-on product called Simpana Archive.

E-discovery functionality is an absolutely critical feature for archiving software. Most organizations perform long-term archiving because the law requires them to retain specific types of data for a specified period of time. These same laws require organizations to be able to retrieve any requested data in the event of a subpoena or an audit. Without an e-discovery feature, organizations would be forced to manually search the archives for the requested data.

This could be impractical or even impossible for organizations that have lots of data. Besides, manual searches are prone to human error. If an organization relies solely on manual searches then it is easy for them to accidentally withhold data that has been subpoenaed. E-discovery has been around for long enough that the courts and auditors expect regulated organizations to have an e-discovery system in place.

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Does your backup application feature archiving capabilities?
If you're going to be using a backup solution to form the basis of some sort of archive, then one thing to seriously consider, is how you'd get your data out in the event your business changes platform in the future. Whilst CommVault offers a compelling solution set, data is stored in the Simpana proprietary platform, which could make moving or changing solution a few years down the line, challenging.

I work for a company who specializes in migrating third party archives to and from Microsoft Exchange/O365 and other archive solutions. All too often we're requested to help move large amounts of data from solutions which offer no API for extraction.

Something to consider if your organisation is aiming to store it's business data for future accessibility.