Why Windows File Server Archive ROIs are Broken

Windows file server archiving is the process of getting all the old data off of an organization’s Windows file servers and moving them to some less expensive form of storage. The concept has been around almost since there were Windows file servers and so vendors can produce fancy ROI spreadsheets that show payback almost as fast as it takes to implement their solution. And almost no one in IT believes what those spreadsheets claim.

What’s missing from these calculations, though, is an understanding of the effort required to identify and move all the data on those servers, and then the time and effort required to manage and monitor the new environment. Instead, most vendor ROIs simply compare the cost of the old solution on a price per GB basis to the new solution. They leave out the administrative overhead and many of these solutions have massive administrative overhead.

Automation and Transparency are the Key

The key for a Windows file server archive project’s ROI to have some realistic value if for the solution to not only have a cost effective secondary storage capability, but for it also to eliminate the administration time required to identify, move to the archive and most importantly to recall data after it is on the archive.

The solution should be able to automatically, based on accessed times and file types, be able to move certain files from Windows file servers to a secondary storage solution. As part of this move it should also leave some form of stub or pointer file so that when a user accesses the file in the future it is automatically recalled for them. The result is almost no administration time to identify and move the files, and no administration time to recall an archived file.

The impact of the automation is significant. Because of the limited amount of administrative involvement and the response time of the typical secondary storage system, IT can be far more aggressive in how much data they archive and how quickly (in terms of access time) files qualify for being archived. That aggressiveness means a reduction by as much as 90% of Windows file server capacities, which means no more purchases of Windows capacity for a long time.

Another aspect of an aggressive archiving strategy is its impact on the data protection process. Backup Windows files servers are one of the more time consuming things a backup solution has to do. The act of continually copying these files even though they haven’t changed is very time consuming. With those files in an archive, there is no longer a need to protect them with the backup process.

StorageSwiss Take

The ROI of a Windows file server archive is impressive but the amount of effort and time spent administering the archive has to be factored in. A solution that can almost eliminate that administration time delivers a much more realistic ROI.

The other aspect of Windows file server optimization is it eliminates the need for continuously upgrading those file servers to meet user and capacity demands. It also eliminates the need of buying special software to protect against ransomware. To learn more about how to eliminate capacity upgrades, backup software upgrades and data protection upgrades, watch our on demand webinar, “Three Windows File Server Upgrades to Avoid”.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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