Published in TDAN.com April 2003
Success in today’s customer-driven and highly competitive business environment depends on your company’s ability to better understand and respond to customer needs. Collecting the right
data is essential. Transaction-intensive, customer-facing applications, as well as high-volume CRM and ERP applications, are collecting and storing more data, doubling and tripling in size faster
than ever before.
Because these applications rely on complex relational databases, managing continuous database growth is absolutely necessary for controlling costs, improving customer satisfaction and enhancing
decision support to ensure long-term success. Active archiving is the best and most cost-effective alternative.
What’s Driving the Data Explosion?
The rapid growth of the Internet and eBusiness, the increase in online transaction processing and the expansion of large databases that support customer-facing applications have contributed
significantly to the data explosion. This unprecedented growth is driving increasing demand for data storage and data management solutions.
Additionally, there is an increasing need to maintain easy access to historical information for business or regulatory requirements. For example, a company may need to protect its interests by
retrieving historical financial transactions to satisfy customer inquiries and resolve claims. In other cases, corporate policy or government regulations dictate that data must remain accessible
for years after it is collected.
For many organizations, accelerating database growth and the need to store historical information is placing a strain on enterprise IT system capacity. As a result, data storage is quickly becoming
the biggest expense in enterprise IT budgets, responsible for up to 30 percent of capital expenditures, despite the fact that the cost of traditional disk storage is dropping.
Why Is Data Growth a Problem?
Database growth degrades performance and limits the availability of mission-critical applications and data warehouses. To maintain service levels, enterprises are spending millions of dollars on
hardware (storage and CPU) upgrades, software upgrades and maintenance fees. This tactical approach – to what is really a strategic problem – provides only a temporary solution.
Accelerating database growth is expected to continue for years. A September 2001 Database Trends and Applications study shows that many databases are crossing into the double digits in
terms of terabyte size. Within a few years, experts predict that the largest databases in the world will contain 100 TB of data. Today, IT professionals are evaluating and deploying new data
management strategies to improve the effectiveness of their current systems and to prepare for future escalation in storage requirements.
Overloaded relational databases limit productivity and increase costs. Even worse, companies risk frustrating or losing customers because of unresponsive eBusiness or customer care applications. In
addition, this growth can severely impact IT organizations, extending well beyond increasing storage costs. Larger databases take longer to load, unload, search and reorganize. Response time slows
to the point where maintaining traditional service levels can become nearly impossible.
Today, business continuity and disaster recovery plans are a top priority. These plans include backup and restore procedures for computer and telecommunications systems, as well as processes and
procedures for managing, maintaining and restoring critical operational data. Larger databases take significantly more time to rebuild and restore. Without an effective way to control database
growth, overloaded databases make it difficult to meet recovery service level agreements (SLAs) and can slow recovery time by hours or days.
Why Have Companies Been Reluctant to Archive Data?
Despite the need to reduce database size and the potential benefits of archiving to improve performance and availability, IT organizations have been reluctant to remove data from production
databases because accidentally deleting essential data could bring mission-critical systems to a halt. This is particularly true when data is stored in a relational database, where it is normalized
across hundreds of tables, interconnected by hundreds of relationships. To further complicate matters, these relationships may be managed by the application rather than by database enforced
referential integrity (RI) rules.
Another major concern is the need to quickly locate and access data once it is removed from the production database and stored in an archive. Responding to audits, lawsuits, government or security
investigations – as well as answering customer questions – may require access to archived data and possibly restoring it to production.
While most applications provide excellent features for collecting, validating and updating data, few include tools to safely archive and remove seldom-referenced data from production. Even if data
could be safely archived, any subsequent requirement to access or restore it can pose a major challenge.
To minimize risk, organizations continue to store all of their relational data in the production database and address performance and availability issues with intensive database tuning and capacity
upgrades. Concerns about accidentally deleting essential data and accessibility issues are valid. Until there is a proven solution that can safely archive data and provide easy access, it may seem
safer to allow continued database growth rather than risk a failed archiving process.
Active Archiving Provides a Long-Term Solution
Unlike traditional archiving, active archiving is a proven technology that safely archives and removes precise subsets of rarely used data from complex relational databases with 100 percent
accuracy. Ongoing active archiving keeps databases streamlined and operating at peak performance providing a cost-effective, long-term solution to the problem of accelerating database growth.
Although some applications offer a rudimentary data purging functionality, none deliver the full set of active archiving capabilities needed to store and access transactional data. Streamlining
these databases is critical to improving customer satisfaction, enhancing decision support and managing costs.
Active archiving is an effective strategy that increases the value proposition of storage and database technologies including SAN, NAS, HSM and data warehousing. Active archiving works within the
framework of these technologies to improve database performance and availability. In addition, because active archiving supports both distributed and mainframe databases, it can be implemented
across an enterprise.
Maximizes Storage Utilization
Active Archiving Delivers Strategic Benefits
Implementing active archiving delivers many strategic benefits:
- Archiving and safely removing seldom-used data from growing databases significantly improves performance and availability of data-intensive applications. With active archiving, IT organizations
have been able to archive and remove up to 65 percent of their production data in their first archive.
- Improving performance and availability increases revenue opportunities and generates internal and external customer satisfaction.
- Deferring or eliminating the need for expensive upgrades can save millions of dollars in IT expenses.
- Researching and selectively restoring archived data enables organizations to quickly respond to customer inquiries, legal issues, audits and government regulations.
- Implementing routine active archiving for data-intensive applications across the enterprise can deliver a rapid return on investment.
- Active archiving can complement and enhance the value proposition of other industry leading storage solutions.
- Active archiving can significantly reduce the time and resources needed to rebuild the database environment when a disaster strikes. As a result, it takes less time to recover and resume the
operation of critical systems.
Active archiving allows companies to achieve their critical business initiatives by providing a comprehensive strategy that delivers benefits throughout the enterprise. With this added technology,
CIOs and strategic planners can realize improved return on investment across the enterprise. Customer service managers can rely on the availability of critical customer-facing applications. Storage
managers can reduce data storage requirements. IT staff on the front lines can improve daily database performance.