Why Multi-Tiered Solutions Are Not True Active Archives  

June 29, 2023By Ben Bonadies

Some organizations opt for hybrid multi-tiered storage solutions and assume they have active archiving. But they don’t.  

Hybrid multi-tiered active archives are basically a collection of different storage tiers ranging from hot to cold. They might be connected and integrated into a single management dashboard, for instance, but they’re still different buckets of data. No matter how many tiers fall in between hot and cold, or what they call them—from AWS’s Hot > UltraWarm > Cold to Microsoft Azure’s Hot > Cool > Archive tiers—they aren’t true active archive storage.  

What they are is active storage AND archive storage, not active archive storage. There’s a big difference.  

Hybrid active archives work by tiering data off active on-premises storage and onto colder archive storage once certain criteria are met, usually following a period of inactivity. For hybrid, tiered archives, the archived data will be kept on a secondary storage system, either an offsite “cold” cloud storage or an LTO tape library.  

These storage mediums, the primary premise-based storage where the bulk of work is done and the colder storage where the data sits after the content moves off the primary drives, form the two spheres of the hybrid active archive. And though this system combines both active and archive storage environments, the two do not create a single active archive. In fact, this procedure is identical to traditional archiving, which offers none of the benefits of a true active archive.  

The tiered hybrid active archive environment still leaves users with the same problems that come with traditional archives, chief among them accessibility. Archive storage mediums like LTO tape and cold cloud storage are glacially slow. Retrieving data from one might take anywhere from hours to days.  

In the case of cold cloud storage services, these retrievals can be exorbitantly expensive. And it’s not just retrieving your data that can be so costly. Tiered cloud storage services charge users when data is moved from one tier to another. Every time data is aged out of one tier to another, the user incurs a charge. This process happens automatically according to policies set up by the organization to make the archiving process more efficient. Remember, this is on top of standing fees for ingest, egress, and any other analytical API operation users might want to perform on their data. It’s because of fees like this that an average of 48% of an organization’s cloud storage bill is allocated to retrieval fees, according to the Wasabi 2023 Global Cloud Storage Index.  

In a hybrid active archive, where these systems are deployed as storage tiers, these accessibility roadblocks still exist. A true active archive allows for the free and rapid recall of assets at will, while hybrid architectures involving LTO or cold cloud storage tiers do not provide it.  

What to Look for in a True Active Archive Storage Solution  

A true active archive solution should be:  

  • Scalable so it grows with your organization 

  • Searchable as a well-organized library so you can find what you’re looking for quickly and easily 

  • Affordable with low per-TB pricing and no punitive fees for data retrieval or API calls  

  • Accessible through a highly performant, single tier of service   

  • Reliable and highly available 

  • Secure to protect against data breaches, malicious inside actors, and human error 

Streamline Workflows with Active Archive Storage  

With true active archiving, you no longer have to decide whether you should hang onto data or discard it. M&E organizations have long known this—especially if they find new and innovative ways to use and monetize their content. You can preserve your content in perpetuity. You can quickly reference past material for work on current projects.  There is real value in all of that data and now that you can store it inexpensively without losing quick accessibility. You can extract that value as you see fit and future-proof your content library.  

By storing your archived data in a single, low-cost tier of high-performance storage, your organization can begin to break down silos and achieve a more streamlined production workflow where content is always available to anyone at a moment’s notice. 

Read the full report

Active Archive Strategies for the Media & Entertainment Industry

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