Steve Blumenau, Vice President of Technology (digital archives) at Iron Mountain Digital (, says:

How does an enterprise get a better handle on the documents they’re storing?

Step 1: Understand what you need to keep and why.

Most companies keep data for the following reasons:

• Compliance (e.g. SEC)
• Corporate policy (e.g. expired contracts)
• Just in case
• Litigation preparation
• Intellectual Property

Step 2: Understand what you have.

Our experience indicates that 60% of data in every server that has been in service over a year is inactive (or static), and should be viewed as a cost savings opportunity. Keep in mind that companies in different industries or verticals have different ratios of active/inactive data as they create historical data at different paces (e.g. manufacturing, consulting, law firms.)

In this step, IT managers need to determine what data sets are considered active and which ones are inactive. Active data sets are critical to business continuity (e.g. Disaster Recovery and backup), while inactive data is a candidate for archive.

Step 3: Understand accessibility.

Last, but not least, it is important to understand accessibility requirements of stored data. Properly addressing inactive data will provide the biggest opportunity for cost savings.

Our recommendation:

• Keep only the most active data on expensive tier 1 highly accessible storage infrastructure onsite.

• For all inactive data, choose to store it offsite with Virtual File Store from Iron Mountain, which provides secure, better access to stored data at a lower price than onsite storage or offsite tape alternatives.

What are some strategies enterprises can use to cut the amount of storage they need?

We have seen two general archiving policies: “keep all data” or “keep nothing.”

Companies “keeping all data” end up storing active and inactive data on tier one infrastructure, which is expensive and inefficient. Other companies use backups as archiving, which is also inefficient. Also, some companies use tapes for backing-up and archiving data. Depending on the reason a company needs to keep data, tape may not be the most efficient or effective media as it is not searchable and provides low accessibility. For instance, if you’re keeping data for litigation purposes, then your archive needs to be secure, auditable, searchable, and in a legally compliant format.

Our recommendation:

• Backup only the most active and recent information for disaster recovery purposes.

• For data that is not accessed frequently, implement a storage policy that migrates old, inactive data to lower-cost storage systems, such as cloud-based storage, like Virtual File Store from Iron Mountain. This allows IT to address other more important projects, such as virtualization or business continuity (Disaster Recovery and backups) plans.

• Use tapes for backup or archiving of data that requires low accessibility and no searches.