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Information Governance: Concerns about Cloud Archiving - a Thing of the Past

As cloud solutions continue to be adopted by organizations and technology evolves to accommodate increasing user demands for better access to their data, a once-common concern about archiving data in the cloud is fast disappearing.  Historically, a strong argument for archiving data behind a company’s firewall was that such a tack would allow for better control and end-user usage of its data.  On the flip-side, users feared that storing data in the cloud would result in artificial barriers to their data, which in many cases was true many years ago.  Much has changed since then.  In this post, we will address some of the myths and perceptions around data access in the cloud and how, in fact, cloud archiving can promote more streamlined accessibility for increased compliance, legal preparedness, and reduced risk.

 

Kicking off: seeing the whole truth

 

Before we discuss the pros and cons of cloud-based data access, let’s first debunk one common argument about on-premise archiving.  Many organizations adopt such an on-site strategy for archiving because they feel it gives them better control of the data.  On the surface, this may be true, but the dirty little secret is that every employee wants to make sure they always have access to their data, and don’t want to be at the mercy of the mail server, a mailbox quota, server patches/updates, network issues, a single device such as their laptop, or other obstacles hindering access to their business-critical data.  As a stopgap, they use PST files, USB drives and other data repositories to ensure access to their own data.  In a sense, they are creating their own personal consolidated collection of data for their own use, yet further averting their data from company visibility.  Thus, a common outcome of utilizing on-premise archiving solutions is additional risk due to the inability to manage “hidden” data sources and in fact inefficient and unreliable access to information by end users. 

 

Why the pendulum has swung back to cloud-based archiving

More and more organizations are recognizing that users are circumnavigating the on-premise archiving solution that they have deployed so they can obtain better access to their data.  With this realization, combined with a widespread recognition that security provided by hosting providers is at least as good (often much better) than any organization can provide itself, cloud-based archiving is experiencing a significant uptick in adoption. 

Today, organizations are consolidating all data across the organization, regardless of its format or repository in a hosted repository, to ensure that all corporate and regulatory policies can be applied across all information, maintain legal preparedness, enable granular visibility and intelligence to the data, and provide reliable data access to all users.  Once data has been consolidated in the cloud, many of the issues created by end user behavior are alleviated.  They no longer have to create and carry their own data, and organizations can gain full control and visibility of their data.  With a cloud archiving solution the IT, legal, and compliance requirements of the organization can be met, while also meeting the requirement of anytime access of business critical data by end users. 

 

The trend toward employee mobility, and its impact on archiving

There’s no question that knowledge workers are increasingly mobile.  Many employees are working from a home office, and virtually all employees have a personal device that they need to use in order to access their enterprise data. By consolidating data in the cloud, the ability to reliably access it becomes less proprietary.  Whether you have a mobile device, laptop, or desktop; Windows or Linux OS, or an iOS or Android device; there is greater access and reliability to the data.  You no longer need to create PST’s, carry around USB drives with important data, or solely rely on a company imaged laptop to access email and documents.  The access that is enabled by consolidating data in the cloud mutually benefits end users and the organization as a whole.  Information can now be identified, accessed, searched, and controlled to meet corporate, legal, and regulatory obligations—while supporting reliable, anytime access to end users.

 

Data access concerns don’t just apply to the end user   

Litigation readiness is one of the most important benefits to cloud archiving.  However, the people who actually perform eDiscovery and investigations are sometimes an afterthought in the archiving buying process.  These attorneys and data analysts leverage and take action on enterprise data at great volumes, often much more regularly than end users themselves, meaning that they are another “user” constituent that must be accounted for.  

With a consolidated cloud archive, all data can be centralized in a single place for high-efficiency identification, preservation, search, culling, and export – ultimately leading to more time and cost efficient eDiscovery.  Again, the key is having access to all data.  You could have the most sophisticated end-to-end eDiscovery capabilities, including conceptual analytics, intelligent culling, and review, but if there is no visibility or access to unknown PSTs, USB drives, or other disparate sources, this unmanaged “dark data” poses significant legal risk.  Once data is consolidated and archived in the cloud, the eDiscovery process becomes even more streamlined and collaborative, especially when working with outside counsel and other litigation support teams.  Further, cloud-based archiving technologies often are integrated with advanced early case assessment and review technologies, delivering a secure environment to bypass the physical movement and handling of data from an on-premise archive to a review tool.

The advantages of cloud archiving further benefit the legal hold process for the same reasons: data is more accessible and controlled.  When data resides outside a centralized archive, with many on-premise solutions, the scope of the legal hold must be further expanded via manual processes.  Many organizations still rely on a simple legal hold notification “requesting” end users to maintain all potentially responsive data to a matter.  Other than the end user’s intuition on the data that needs to be retained, the legal team has little control to enforce that data does not get accidently, or otherwise, deleted.  At the conclusion of the matter, organizations have a similar issue of ensuring that data previously on legal hold has be defensibly disposed, if required, per retention policies.  By leveraging the data management capabilities of cloud archiving, the legal hold process can be strictly and efficiently managed to support this phase of the eDiscovery process.

 

Improve data management capabilities via the cloud

With cloud archiving, there is no longer a “give and take” between enabling the control of all data by the organization, and the efficient and reliable accessibility to the data by end users.  The myth of cloud archiving isolating or making data access difficult continues to be dispelled by the many companies who have embraced its benefits to actually improve data management and access by all users.  Many years ago it was the norm to store cash in the mattress, rather than within the relative unknown of a bank’s vault.  Today it is not uncommon to manage your money from any street corner, country, computer, or mobile device without any question of accessibility.  The implementation of cloud archiving is growing at an astounding rate, and soon we will see the day that it is the de facto standard for archiving worldwide – in large part because of the benefits it provides for accessing data.

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About the Author
Joe Garber is Vice President of Information Governance at HP Autonomy. In this role, he leads product messaging and go-to-market efforts fo...
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