Q&A: A New Approach to Tape Discovery

The benefits and best practices of using tape discovery.

Dealing with archived media is a thankless -- and often painful -- job. IT's constant changes to its environment complicates matters. There must be a better way to get a handle on archived data, especially to streamline data recovery and reporting. Jim McGann, vice president of information discovery for Index Engines, explains the benefits of enterprise tape discovery and the best practices that will help you make the most of the technology.

Enterprise Strategies: What are the biggest challenges enterprises are facing with tape discovery?

Jim McGann: IT infrastructure is constantly changing. Software changes, configurations change, e-mail servers change, and file systems are reorganized. When searching for specific data, it is often a huge challenge to recover your data on specific tapes. Enterprise IT teams could be searching through thousands of tapes, dealing with different backup versions or vendor formats, different e-mail server versions, and different operating systems versions.

The major concerns surrounding tape discovery is the significant expense needed to manage and store data. Those include offsite storage fees, maintenance and support of tape infrastructures, software, and consultant fees needed to restore/ recover data from old tapes.

What are all the use cases for tape discovery outside of litigation?

Although use of electronic media (such as e-mails, external flash drives, and instant messaging software) enables organizations to have ready access to all kinds of information, many companies worry about the legal ramifications of storing sensitive and confidential data that could be used against them in a court of law. Recent laws and changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) have placed a burden on companies to document and defend their recordkeeping and e-discovery procedures.

Tape discovery can be valuable for records management initiatives by recovering legacy data buried on old backup tapes and extracting it to new media. Tape discovery also enables data migration by allowing access to data regardless of format in order to facilitate new business objectives.

Tape discovery is known to be a difficult process. How does technology ease the burden?

In the past, the high costs associated with tape discovery were reflective of the timely and specialized process required by traditional tape restoration. However, both e-discovery and tape budgets are positively impacted by proactive tape discovery. With new technology available, tape discovery has become an automated and efficient process that eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming restoration.

The new direct indexing approach to tape discovery has changed the landscape in the market. Enterprises are able to search their data, find exactly what they need, and extract it at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional restore methods.

What are the benefits for enterprises using tape discovery?

Often times, IT departments do not know what exists on tapes -- so I'd say the popular benefit is the reduction of legal liability. An important contract or e-mail could be critical to a trial if an organization is not aware of what exists. Tape discovery is beneficial to IT departments for insurance purposes, but if not managed properly, it could be very expensive. By having tape discovery as a priority, IT departments can:

  • Delete duplicate data and reclaim media capacity
  • Extract business records and other potential litigious or regulated data into online repositories
  • Make aged data accessible without legacy versions of backup software and hardware

Tape discovery can be a costly procedure. How can organizations manage this appropriately?

Enterprises must analyze the way they handle data and how much they spend on a yearly basis to maintain archived tapes and on reactive e-discovery projects. By knowing what exists and developing a standardized e-discovery and tape storage process, organizations are able to reduce the risk of litigation and the unplanned costs that go along with it. In addition, having a standardized process helps reduce and consolidate tapes by lowering storage fees and service providers.

What are the best practices for deploying tape discovery?

Tape discovery should be a priority for all enterprises. Storing tape offsite can be expensive for organizations, but knowing what exists and the value of a lost file -- or the significance of what an organization is protecting -- can help enterprises make informed decisions on how they handle a potential litigation.

Companies should prioritize projects to get the most benefits and greatest ROI including setting up a budget for tape discovery and revaluating offsite storage fees with reducing the number of tapes that must be shipped and stored offsite.

What should every company know about Index Engines tape discovery solution?

Index Engines is the only solution available that can automatically catalog, index, and extract data directly from tape without the backup software. Relevant data can be identified and extracted in its native format, with all metadata intact, to litigation hold or an archive without ever restoring the tape content. We automate the discovery and extraction of tape data and eliminate the need for time-consuming and expensive data restoration.

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