Could GDPR be the final nail in tape’s coffin?

GDPR is the nail in tape data storage coffin

Posted on Thursday, August 10, 2017

In recent years many industry commentators have called for businesses to bring data out of cold storage so that it can be used for big data analytics.

But the fact that this information is held offline, generally on tape, is because it has very little value. In most cases this data is retained purely for compliancy reasons.

When it comes to big data analytics, the added value of archived data will probably be negligible. But there is now a good reason for bringing old data stores back on line – and it may even signal the death of your tape archives altogether.

GDPR and the right to erasure

From May 2018, citizens of the European Union will have the right to request that organisations delete their personal data. Known as the Right to Erasure, businesses will have to remove information when requested “without undue delay”.

There are some situations where this information must not be deleted. In general businesses will have just a few weeks to comply with a request. In order to remain compliant with the GDPR, all personal data must be removed – including that which is held in cold storage or tape archives.

The digital tape archive challenge

Although the GDPR makes some allowance for the difficulty in fulfilling erasure requests, the reality remains that business will have to delete everything. Even if that means trawling through hundreds of magnetic tapes housing corporate cold store data assets at significant cost.

With this in mind, bringing cold store data back online makes sense. Accessing and managing data stored on spinning disks is much faster than performing the same task on tape, making it more cost efficient to fulfil GDPR erasure requests.

The falling per gigabyte cost of disk storage is no longer a barrier to keeping data online for instance, and with the option of using post warranty storage arrays to house cold store archives, the costs fall further still. There is also the option to enable big data analytics across these old repositories, if you can establish a business case for doing so.

With less than a year until the GDPR becomes law, businesses need to address the technological challenges created by the legislation. There is now strong justification for re-purposing existing, post warranty storage.

To learn more about redeploying your storage assets and how much it may save your organisation, please get in touch.