The ‘How and Why’ of Information Archiving

  • May 05, 2015
  • Feature

By Bryant Bell, Director, Archiving & Pervasive Governance, EMC Enterprise Content Division

Many organizations are experiencing an exploding growth in business information, as well as an increase in regulatory requirements. Unfortunately, this mix of opportunity and risk is hitting IT departments at a time of serious cost cutting. Legacy and enterprise applications such as ERP, accounting, asset management, production planning and others are bursting with different forms of information: transactions, documents, voice recordings, print streams and other types of structured and unstructured data and content.

This accumulation stretches data storage capacity to the breaking point—and results in higher costs for servers, storage, application maintenance, database software and operations.

Keeping all information in its particular source application is neither cost-effective nor scalable. And backup is only a temporary measure because it’s difficult to access and not a compliant solution. Deleting everything is also not an option because of regulatory mandates and internal policies for information retention to meet privacy, security and legal preservation requirements.

In addition, many organizations are spending millions to maintain legacy applications that are kept alive solely for data compliance initiatives. This is an unnecessary drain on IT, not only for their high costs, but also for the scarce resources needed to maintain these systems.

Another issue is searching these different software applications to find information. When information is needed, users must first identify which application might host the information they’re looking for, and then search that particular application to find what they need. Search functions will be different from one application to the next, and many applications—particularly of the older, legacy variety—may have weak or even non-existent search functionality.

The ideal solution to all these challenges must have the capacity to:

  • Ingest and retain all information types, structured and unstructured, in a consolidated repository
  • Provide the ability to audit and preserve data and content to meet a variety of regulatory and governance mandates
  • Easily manage simple to complex retention policies via an intuitive user interface for centralized retention policy management
  • Store information in an open, industry-standard format for long term retention and easy access
  • Have no dependencies on the originating application for managing or referencing the information
  • Have an integrated search function so users can find needed information regardless of the originating application
  • Have the ability to expose the retained information to new applications and Big Data analytic platforms.

GDF SUEZ is one of the world's leading energy providers, and their publication division decided to create a shared solution capable of meeting standard archiving needs, and suitable for use by all GDF business entities. Their team evaluated the possibilities for such a solution, clarified the fundamental differences between storage and archiving, and inventoried the types of objects in need of archiving. GDF then conducted an RFP process, and ultimately selected EMC InfoArchive.

GDF preferred InfoArchive for its ability to archive all object types (documents, technical data, voice files, video, etc.) in accordance with prevailing standards, as well as for its integrated archiving of legally admissible records.

The GDF Enterprise Archive is built on EMC technology already in wide use within the group for electronic records management (ERD). It includes a content injector that provides a link between the source application and InfoArchive, with a top layer above providing functions for legally admissible time-stamping and signatures. The InfoArchive web interface provides users with a very simple interface for quickly searching, finding and retrieving archived information. The first documents to be archived were from SAP, their ERP application.

“It was essential for GDF SUEZ to work with a supplier offering archiving solutions in accordance with French and European standards,” said Jean-Luc Marchand, publication division manager at GDF SUEZ. “With no rules in place, we wanted to come as close as possible to meeting existing standards, mainly NF Z42-013, MOREQ 2 and ISO 15489.”

“EMC, which we were already using for ERD, met this requirement. It also offered integrated admissibility functions and accepted all types of flows and formats, independent of the source application. Additionally, EMC Professional Services is integrating our applications over time, as they will be providing the archiving service,” added Marchand.

“Besides the solution’s technical features, EMC has made a long-term commitment with us to work within the concept of a two-tier, admissible-or-not, archiving model. Every time an internal client sends a request for a given application, EMC Professional Services implements the integration, which automates the injection of records into the archiving system,” concluded Marchand.


About the author

Bryant Bell has spent over 19 years in information technology and services as a global market strategist and a specialist in GRC, eDiscovery and archiving. As a past speaker at AIIM, Bryant has provided insight on governance and compliant archiving. He has also initiated governance eDiscovery and archiving programs with such companies as Wolters Kluwer, EMC and Adobe. In his current role,  Bryant is a passionate evangelist for compliant archiving as a method to unleash the value of information and transform the enterprise.

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