UK companies are markedly less willing than their US counterparts to embrace new techniques for managing archived data over the long term, new research indicates.
The trend could reflect lower awareness in the UK of compliance and retention issues, according to new statistics from the second annual BridgeHead Software Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Audit.
Striking national differences are apparent in responses to the value of maintaining long-term archived data.
Sixty two per cent of US respondents rate preserving archived data for the long-term on multiple media types such as disk, tape and optical technologies as important or very important, while only 41 per cent of UK respondents feel the same way.
UK apathy also registers at the other end of the scale where 20 per cent of UK respondents answer 'don't know' (six per cent in the US) and 16 per cent answered 'unimportant' (11 per cent in the US).
And, when asked about the prospect of being able to keep multiple copies of long-term archived data in multiple locations, US respondents are, again, significantly more open than their UK counterparts: just 51 per cent of UK respondents say this would be 'important' or 'very important' compared to 69 per cent of US respondents.
Bridgehead Software says that responses from both countries provide a near-identical pattern of data retention requirements: nine per cent of respondents identify that some of their archive data will need to be retained for in excess of 30 years, with a total of a third of UK respondents (and 37 per cent in the USA) saying in excess of ten years.
Twenty seven per cent of UK respondents and 31 per cent of US respondents say the longest that any data in their organisation needs to be retained is four years or less.
When asked how valuable it would be to be able to search all archived data based on content, only 51 per cent of UK respondents say 'important' or 'very important', compared to 61 per cent in the US.
In both countries, more than a fifth didn't know if it was important or not.
Tony Cotterill, chief executive of BridgeHead Software, said:"Despite the length of time they know they need to keep data and also despite the fact that well over half of respondents cite regulatory compliance as a driver for archiving, many respondents give the impression that they feel the job is done once data is simply migrated off primary storage.But this is clearly not the case."
He added: "Compliance is actually about being able to find data, not just migrate it.
"So, it's a concern that a question about archive searching was received with indifference by almost half of respondents.
"With six per cent of companies unable to retrieve lost files and 23 per cent not knowing how long it would take to find a lost file, it's not as though they have much to be blase about; I'd have expected more enthusiasm. It shows there's much work still to do."
Information lifecycle management or "ILM" has come to be accepted as a critical business process to ensure cost-effective and safe management of information.
However, ILM requires an entire organisation to be highly disciplined and involved in the classification and prioritisation of information so that IT departments can correctly manage underlying data.
With growing data volumes, disorderly data classification by user communities and other departments, and compliance requirements to be able to search for particular data in an archive, IT organisations are beginning to focus on what they can control – Data Lifecycle Management or "DLM".
DLM automates and optimises data placement and management techniques used for data throughout its lifecycle.
It operates on what is already known about data from its attributes, and from textual or other analytically induced content.
Policies can be created based on the resulting data classification that automate the repositioning of data and correctly apply other data management rules.
These policies create the appropriate number of spare data copies to ensure data protection, business continuance, long-term retention and compliance.
"Protected Data Lifecycle Management" takes DLM one step further and is a more comprehensive and disciplined approach to managing the data lifecycle.