Archiving with Optical Storage - The Second Wave

New government regulations mandate archiving

For years, the term "archival" was used to describe data that was in its long-term, decreasing value stage, and was most often stored on optical discs. As customers and vendors identify their more pressing storage needs going forward, the amount of data in the category of archival and long-term retention is being viewed differently than before. Historically, when data reached archival status, it had reached its final state before being deleted and ending the data life-cycle. Archiving almost always assumed that the value of data decreased as it aged. This is no longer the case, as the value of data is often increasing as it ages due to a variety of factors including new government regulations. The concept of managing data throughout its life-cycle has taken on renewed emphasis throughout the storage industry and, at times, it seems like all data has become critical. The second-wave of archival storage management is underway.

Archival Data and Fixed Content

Archival and fixed content applications are now growing significantly faster than traditional storage applications. Fixed content includes storage-intensive applications such as critical business applications data, complex legal and reference documents, medical data, e-mail attachments, blueprints, satellite imagery, security surveillance, check images, and broadcast content-among others whose content is seldom, if ever, altered. In addition, over half of the digital data being generated annually today (this is approximately one exabyte or 1x1018) now falls into the category of archival and fixed content, meaning that the data doesn't change after it is initially created. Businesses are deleting data at a slower rate than ever before due to new legal requirements and government regulations. (Maybe the next generation of computer keyboards will even come without a Delete Key!) When archival and fixed content data ages beyond its active or re-reference period, the data is still required to be retained and Network Attached automated optical library storage remains the optimal choice and lowest overall cost solution for long-term archival storage. This is expected to remain the case for the foreseeable future and represents the largest new growth market for optical storage. The longer requirements for digital data retention has triggered much of the current Data Life Cycle Management activity and directly affects the optical storage industry, the primary repository for the vast majority of this data.

Regulatory Issues Arrive

Increasing regulatory pressure to comply with federal mandates for e-mail, medical, and insurance, legal, financial and government classified data are quickly forcing many businesses to examine any potential weak points in their long-term storage systems. New applications and a variety of legal and business requirements are driving the need for many businesses to re-examine or create their archival policies. One of the most visible examples of the emphasis on the increasingly critical value of archival data lies with the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act) requirements. Not only does HIPPA require health providers to preserve data for a yet to be determined time period, but the failure to protect critical patient data presently carries with it penalties ranging up to or exceeding $25,000 per violation. Just the threat of the fines and other forms of non-compliance are encouraging storage administrators to make sure that an increasing amount of archival data will be kept indefinitely for future reference. The PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications System) application that captures and stores radiology information and other types of medical images is a primary component of the HIPPA requirement. Data used to be retained for one year, and then three years, and then seven years: now infinite retention seems inevitable for some applications. Given today's legal, economic and political climate, the value of archival data has never been higher.

Following is a partial list of regulations, which are becoming increasingly important to the storage administrator's strategy:

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act defines rules for falsification of records and e-mail with retention and deletion guidelines.
  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) for medical images and records.
  • Brokerage Business: SEC Rule 17a-3 and 17a-4
  • Banking & Finance: BASEL II, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and FDIC regulations
  • Bio-Tech & Pharmaceutical - CFR21 Title 11
  • Numerous other regulations under review

Network Attachment - A Critical Component

With optical storage being the primary repository for most of this new emerging wave of invaluable data, any problem with retrieving the data is becoming more costly every day. The ability to seamlessly network-attach these optical storage repositories is too often overlooked as it is one of the most critical components of any archival system deployed today.

Network attachment is the preferred and in most organizations the required interconnect for storage components such as RAID storage resources must integrate within the existing infrastructure and be managed globally this applies to ALL Archival Storage implementation as well.

How SAMServer Addresses Archival Storage Requirements

StorageQuest's SAMServer series of archive systems unify optical storage providing organizations with an integrated approach to streamlining compliant archive storage and reducing costs in FIVE ways:

1. Unified Storage

The SAMServer system with GUI-based management provides archive management from anywhere on the network. Investments in the build-out of storage area networks and infrastructures, to better manage information and storage costs, are fully leveraged through the SAMServer. By easily integrating into the corporate infrastructure, it allows any application fast and easy access to compliant storage resources.

2. Open Storage

The SAMServer utilizes industry standards such as: Universal Disc Format (UDF). Complete system transparency is achieved through the use of UDF which is fully supported by all major operating systems including: Windows, MAC/OS and UNIX providing a completely open and transportable archive solution. Information stored through the SAMServer onto optical media can be read by any of the aforementioned operating systems as a standard operation - no special drivers or additional software to purchase. Your archived data is free from vendor "lock-in" as nothing is proprietary. The SAMServer provides total freedom of choice for compliant archiving regardless of Vendor, Format or Media.

3. Simplified Storage Management

The SAM Server provides total management for all of your archive resources through its powerful, yet easy to use, GUI-based management and control system. Truly a Plug-n-Play experience as within minutes applications are archiving and retrieving data from anywhere on the network.

4. Complete Storage Support

The SAMServer supports the complete range of optical media formats including: WORM, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, CCW,CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW. A bright future in optical storage is assured as StorageQuest is working closely with industry visionaries such as InPhase Technologies' 3D Holographic Storage and the Blu-ray Disc consortium. By providing our unified storage solution as these products come to market, it ensures a compliant archiving roadmap for many years to come.

5. Low Cost Storage

The SAMServer lowers the total cost of compliant archival storage in several ways: Through its simple Plug-n-Play appliance model systems administrators can easily install, configure and manage optical archive systems. There is no need for high level technical resources to be employed to support a SAMServer Archival system. The SAMServer enables the sharing of the optical storage resources throughout the network, amortizing the archival costs across many applications, thus lowering the total cost of ownership for compliant storage within the enterprise. The SAMServer lowers costs through the utilization of low cost optical storage. For example: a DVD-R system using the UDF format enables any data archived on inexpensive DVD-R media to be read on any Windows, MAC/OS or UNIX system directly. Today's systems have DVD drives already installed so there is no additional hardware or software to purchase. This totally open architecture greatly reduces long term storage costs and management, while eliminating the need for costly and risky data conversations from one system to another.


For all questions regarding government laws & regulations seek legal counsel. The information on this site is not a legal opinion or legal advice.