Organisations lack Insight into legacy data: Survey

Do you know where your backups are? If not you have company. A global survey of 720 IT administrators by data recovery expert Kroll Ontrack found 30 percent of respondents do not have clear insight into what specific information is stored within their tape archives.

It shows organisations are putting themselves at risk for legal action and/or financial penalties due to an inability to quickly target and retrieve data from legacy tape archives. This is problematic because these administrators are regularly asked to restore data in response to compliance, investigation or litigation requests.

“Most organisations are required by law to keep and maintain access to regulated data for a designated period of time,” explains Todd Johnson, vice president, Data & Storage Technologies, Kroll Ontrack.

“Therefore, maintaining access to legacy data and having the ability to quickly respond to data requests is crucial. Overstrained IT resources and the fact that nearly one-third of organisations struggle to even know or understand the data stored on their company archive or backup tapes is a real challenge and could put an organization at risk if they are unable to produce in a timely manner.”

The study was conducted in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Singapore and New Zealand and included responses from 720 IT specialists from corporations and IT service providers. The results demonstrate that IT administrators are regularly under pressure to access, identify and restore specific data from archive tapes, whether to support an internal investigation involving legacy custodian data, to respond to a regulatory request from a government agency, or as part of an ediscovery matter involving archived data.

In fact, 30 percent of the participants receive restore requests daily, weekly or at least monthly, and another 32 percent are asked to restore data from tapes at least multiple times a year. However, 22 percent of participants confirm that they cannot respond to restore requests as demanded by their organization and cannot consistently locate and access the desired data.

When asked about the barriers to having clear insight into what information is contained in their tape archive, IT administrators cite the difficulty and time consumption associated with accessing or viewing tape content (43 percent), the fact that their organization no longer has the infrastructure in place (software or hardware) to access the legacy tapes (24 percent), the expense of maintaining legacy infrastructure (18 percent) and damaged tapes (7 percent).

Additional key findings from the study include:

  • Backup Protocols: Almost two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) archive data daily, but 38 percent do not. In fact, 13 percent back up their data only monthly or less, posing serious risk to their organization as they could lose data for a period of a month or even more and have no viable backup.
  • Legacy Tape Abundance and Age: Thirty-four percent of participants store more than 100 legacy tapes in their organization – that includes 12 percent who have more than 500 tapes. Further, over half (56 percent) of respondents manage tapes that are older than 5 years, while 34 percent manage tapes 5 – 10 years old, and 21 percent manage tapes which are older than 10 years. Even though the age of tape medium is not a certainty for tape damage or data loss, in combination with many read and write passes, poor handling during storage or the lack of the correct hardware or software can pose serious issues.

“With the variety of backup and tape solutions used by organizations, getting a handle on effective tape management and establishing processes to quickly respond to data requests rests on two tape management best practices: identifying the quality status of your tape archive and having knowledge of the data stored within the archive,” said Johnson.

“Organizations are wise to audit their legacy tapes and catalogue the information and location of the data stored on them. As this can be a costly and time-consuming task, we’re seeing demand for an easy-to-use solution to consolidate catalogues from various systems and mediums into a single, searchable inventory.”