10 November 2014

New Records Technology: Structured Data Archiving

Care for an example of how IT, Legal, and Records need to work together (commonly known as Information Governance?)  Here’s one development:

Technology at ARMA International is a fascinating mélange.  Each year, we see incremental improvements.  There are faster scanners, increasingly subtle analytics, greater capacities, more resolution, less-volatile media, and more.

But the one technological breakthrough I saw in San Diego filled a glaring abyss in Records & Information capabilities.  While the technology is not “must have” for all organizations, it is a game-changer for those that do.

I’m talking about records management in Structured Data Archiving.  At least two vendors offered it at ARMA.

Why is SDA needed? Well, databases contain record-quality information that is subject to an organization’s retention schedule.  Sometimes that data needs to be off-loaded from the database, for various reasons.
1.       The database may be full to the point of diminished performance.  Overload may “bring a system to its knees”.
2.        A system may be retired before the retention requirements on the data are fulfilled
3.       Data being archived may be on legal hold
4.       A database containing records may be inactive, with little prospect for reenactment

When I last looked at Structured Data Archiving, a couple years ago, there were plenty of products on the market.  However, none that I saw had a facile capability to apply the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles to the archived data.  Oh, there were workarounds, but they were either unacceptably expensive or architecturally contorted.

Now there is software that can apply disposal dates to data as it goes into the archive – even if the original database did not offer that capability.  Legal holds applied to the data are maintained as the data is archived, later to be lifted while the disposal clock to go right on ticking.

A caveat: any migration requires meticulous care to protect the records’ integrity.

Nonetheless, for organizations with many outdated systems, SDA can pay for itself because archived storage is cheaper than data on active systems.  At the same time, it lowers the risk of losing record data or keeping it beyond its disposal date.  This is a significant step forward.

Legal can have access to pertinent records, while the Records department enforces its retention schedule, and IT makes it happen.  That sounds like Information Governance to me.

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