The rapid accumulation of data worldwide continues at an unprecedented rate,
writes Christa Roets, customer services manager at Datacentrix. In fact,

according to the META Group, relational databases are growing at a rate of
125% annually.
Enterprise databases are doubling and even tripling in size and exceeding
projected estimates, resulting in serious consequences.
The accumulation of data leads to degraded performance and slower response
time. Availability is limited because routine database maintenance requires
more processing time, often taking systems out of service.
Managing larger databases also has an impact on critical disaster recovery
time. If a business relies on data-intensive, mission-critical business
applications, then unmanaged database growth directly affects its bottom
line, as its risks losing customers, frustrating users and missing new
revenue opportunities.
Managing and storing enterprise data are becoming top priorities for IT
executives. CIOs face an increasing demand for 100 percent availability of
mission-critical applications, 24/7 e-business support and scalable access
to enterprise data on a variety of platforms. But corporate databases are
growing so large that just maintaining traditional service levels has become
a demanding challenge for many IT organisations. So, what happens when
accelerating database growth is allowed to continue?
For most companies, the solution to exponential database growth is to
upgrade servers and acquire more storage capacity. Faster, more powerful
processors can speed up access to information, while the underlying
databases continue to grow. However, this approach is rapidly losing its
viability for many reasons.
As database size increases, the performance of mission-critical applications
deteriorates. The larger the database, the more time it takes to load,
unload, search, reorganise, index and optimise. Not only do response times
slow, but access to decision-making information becomes more difficult and
service levels decline.
In the past, IT could count on a linear increase in capacity to keep the
service levels within an acceptable tolerance. However, demand for high
performance is more critical than ever, requiring more frequent and larger
increases in capacity to satisfy the demand.
Archiving becomes strategic as it grows in importance to organisations. In
fact, it can help in speeding up business processes, supporting a company's
compliance efforts, forming the basis for Records Management (automating the
management of record archiving and retention policies) and preserving the
organisation's knowledge.
Many IT executives are already convinced that an effective database
archiving strategy makes sense, and they are actively searching for viable
solutions. The alternatives include building and maintaining a custom
database archiving solution in-house or purchasing "off-the-shelf" database
archiving software. To properly archive data, the ideal database archiving
solution must address the following minimum requirements:
* Preserve the business context of the archived data, even for the most
complex relational data model.
* Include a "selective delete" feature to accurately remove precise sets of
related data from a production database, leaving all other data intact.
* Offer a preview or "deferred delete" capability to prevent removing data
* Manage archived data efficiently and effectively.
* Support intelligent indexing, providing a sure and fast way to identify
archived data for easy retrieval.
* Provide a fast and easy way to locate specific data across all archives.
* Allow for browsing archived data directly.
* Support complete integration of the archiving strategy with any
application, while meeting business requirements.
* Provide a "selective restore" capability that allows for accurately
restoring only a few rows of data, as needed.
* Support for multiple databases and operating platforms, including
federated access and cross-database interoperability.
* Deliver comprehensive and scalable capabilities that meet your company's
needs across the enterprise, today and in the future.
Implementing off-the-shelf database archiving software is a cost-effective
approach that directly addresses the problem of database growth without
diverting internal resources from IT business initiatives. The ideal
database archiving solution must have the flexibility and enterprise
scalability to be implemented with any application across your enterprise,
without writing and maintaining program code.
Off-the-shelf database archiving technology delivers comprehensive archive,
restore, and storage capabilities that can be implemented quickly and easily
customised. The basic implementation strategy includes:
* Analysing your business rules and objectives, archive requirements and
policies, access and storage requirements.
* Identifying the data that can be archived to meet your business
objectives. This process includes analysing the effects of archiving
application data and identifying customisations that may be necessary.
* Verifying the archive process, which includes selectively archiving and
removing data from a production database, as well as accessing, researching
and restoring archived data, as needed.
Most companies implement archiving solutions using a phased approach, with
the overall corporate objective to employ a strategic database archiving
solution across the enterprise. Once the archiving policies are established
for a selected data-intensive application, much of the process is automated.
As database archiving continues on a regular basis, archiving solutions
provide tools that help determine the optimum amount of data to remove. This
systematic approach can then be extended to other mission-critical
As a practical example of using this type of technology to the best effect,
a locally based Datacentrix customer recently implemented IBM's Optim
solution for the delivery of archive-and-purge functionality for database
applications. Customers around the globe use this solution to assist them in
managing data volume growth, lowering their total cost of software ownership
and to implement their data management strategy.
By implementing this archiving solution, the company in question is seeing
benefits including the provision of one open archiving solution for current
and future archiving needs using the current technology offered by IBM, a
solution that can be integrated in the existing IT infrastructure and is
scalable, secure archiving of data, access to archived data as and when
needed and a robust and secure solution for highest data volumes.
It is becoming more and more apparent that archiving matters more than ever
to every organisation, particularly in the face of today's climate of strict
compliance and demands for maximising ROI. Database archiving is already
assisting many businesses worldwide to better control costs, more
efficiently use resources, increase system availability and meet compliance
requirements and it is gratifying to see that local companies are swiftly
moving in the same direction.