Strategies for Archiving in Hybrid Environments


The survey of decision makers and influencers looked at the types of electronic content that organizations archive today and where that content resides. Notably, as shown in Figure 2, a high percentage of corporate email on-premises (61 percent), users' files (61 percent), invoices (58 percent), security audit logs (52 percent), and project data (48 percent) are all archived on-premises. Not surprisingly, corporate email in the cloud tends also to be archived in the cloud (56 percent). In addition, slightly more than 20 percent of both user files and on-premises email are stored in the cloud.


There are three key takeaways from the figure above:

  1. The archival of electronic content of all types, not just email, is growing over time as decision makers increasingly appreciate the importance of retaining electronic records from a wide variety of sources. For example, relatively few organizations today archive text messages, despite the fact that many of these messages contain business records and should be archived just like email or any other form of electronic communications. A few regulatory organizations, such as the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA), have determined that text messages and other non-email content should be archived, and Osterman Research believes that this mindset will become more common over the next two to three years.
  2. As shown in the figure above and the one below, archiving is shifting to the cloud as more organizations realize the benefits of letting a specialist provider manage the archiving process.
  3. Despite the more rapid pace of cloud archiving adoption, on-premises archiving will continue to be a key method of archiving electronic content over the next two years and for many years thereafter.

In short, the more rapid growth of cloud archiving, as well as the continued use of on-premises archiving systems, points to a decidedly hybrid archiving future as both delivery models will be used for various types of electronic content archival.


Underscoring the shift of archiving to the cloud, while on-premises archiving will continue to a popular option for the archival of electronic content, is the data shown in Figure 3 on the next page. While the cloud will not displace on-premises archiving systems, we have reached a tipping point at which more content will be archived in the cloud during 2018.

There are many drivers for this shift, including the general trend towards the adoption of the cloud for core applications like email and file management, the increasing maturity of cloud archiving solutions, and the increasing acceptance of hybrid archiving solutions. As indicated in the figure above, cloud-based email content created in the near term will tend to be archived in the cloud, so there is a significant relationship between the location of the production system and the archive that stores it.


That said, it is important to note that there is value in many situations for organizations that are maintaining email and other unstructured data both on-premises and in the cloud (such as before or during a migration from on-premises Exchange to Office 365) to be able to archive their content in a single cloud repository. This can improve both operational efficiency in having a single archive of corporate content, and it can speed search and eDiscovery of this content.


With the growth in data types, as well as the explosion in the amount of data generated and stored over recent decades, many organizations are seeking a solution that will permit storage of multiple content types in the same archive. Such a universal archive can offer a number advantages in that it ingests and indexes data from different sources and offers a common management interface and one storage management infrastructure. Savings comes from management, administration, and training on one system and one vendor to manage.


There are a number of scenarios in which decision makers are more comfortable with hybrid archiving:

  • Organizations may have data sovereignty or jurisdictional requirements to archive certain data types in specific locations (or anywhere that is not outside of those locations), and so may choose to use on-premises archiving for that data and cloud archiving for other data.
  • Organizations may have specific regulatory requirements that lead to a specific archiving strategy. For example, some archiving requirements, such as SEC Rule 17a-4, require preservation of certain types of records for three to six years, "the first two years in an easily accessible place." Some organizations may opt to retain more recent records in a cloud-based archiving system and older records on-premises to reduce their storage costs.
  • Archiving records on-premises at primary locations may be a priority for an organization for reasons other than cost (since cloud archiving is often less expensive), while records from satellite locations with no dedicated IT staff may be better served with cloud-based archiving solutions, although these other reasons are addressed by some cloud providers.
  • Highly sensitive or confidential data may require a specific archiving treatment, such as archiving the most sensitive data assets on-premises and other data types in the cloud.
  • Some customers will migrate to a cloud-based archiving solution, but will continue to maintain legacy archives on-premises after doing so. The rationale is that since the useful life of this legacy data will extend for a few years more, but will rarely be accessed, the cost of and labor associated with the migration is not worth the effort to move it to the cloud.

It is important to note that we are not implying that on-premises solutions are necessarily more secure than those in the cloud, or vice-versa, but there continues to be a mindset among many decision makers that content behind the firewall is more secure than content in the cloud. Consequently, a hybrid solution may be the best option in these situations.

Leading Drivers for Archiving