Why Arent You Archiving?

By Charles Garry  |  Posted 2005-11-18

Why Arent You Archiving?

Database archiving, to me, is a no-brainer.

I have held this opinion since 2002 when I first came across some vendors in this space and after speaking with organizations that had implemented a database archiving solution.

Indeed, I had also predicted the database or structured data archive market should reach $240 million by the end of this year.

That means that a paltry 1,200 organizations would have invested a relatively small amount (about $150,000-$200,000) and perhaps a month of their time to implement a database archive solution.

Database archiving is simply the process of removing inactive or low value rows of data from a production database table and placing them in another table either within the same database instance or a different instance.

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The process is complicated somewhat by the business rules and application logic that you would want to employ to evaluate if a row was a candidate for archive.

For this reason the market-leading vendors started offering application-specific solutions for Oracle eBusiness Suite and PeopleSoft, among others. Of course, custom database archiving was always an available option.

Now admittedly, my projection was hardly scientific. I simply asked the leading vendors (Princeton Softech, Applimation, OuterBay, Solix) to tell me their average deal size, number of customers and assumed that 100 percent CAGR through 2006 was easily achievable.

I did expect it to level out in the later years, but that strong growth would remain for many years to come. It is halfway through 2005 and my sense is that the database archive market has failed to achieve the type of growth I had predicted.

I recently asked a manager of a Fortune 300 company if they do database archiving as a best practice. He told me they didnt feel like there was a pressing need. So I responded with some specific what-if value propositions that I have seen in some shops:

  • Perhaps as much as 80 percent of the data in your production database could be inactive.

  • What if users that are budget sensitive realized that the production data is replicated an average of seven times?

  • What if you could achieve a 1:1 correlation in performance of your most expensive queries (e.g., 30 percent reduction in DB size = 30 percent improvement in query performance)?

  • What if users understood the time savings assuming the database needed to be fully recovered if the database was 50 percent smaller?

  • What if users understood the relationship between personnel costs and the size of the database? The larger it is, the harder it is to maintain linear performance.

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    Why has database archiving

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    Additionally, I told him what the average investment was and that it took most companies about a month to get a database archive solution in production, at least for some of the packaged applications such as Oracles eBusiness Suite or PeopleSoft.

    His response was that perhaps the apathy was a result of the "storage is cheap" mantra. But he found the argument compelling and had no idea why they would have passed on such an offering.

    Some estimates I have seen say that perhaps as many as 36,000 companies own either SAP, Peoplesoft or Oracle enterprise planning software.

    Im only asking for a lousy three percent of those customers to figure out that keeping their production database lean and mean is definitely something they should be looking into.

    I decided to ask the leading vendors themselves to see if my sense of failed expectations was in fact true. And if so, why?

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    Predictably most stated that while the market was tough, they were seeing strong interest.

    Interestingly enough, each suggested that they almost never see their competitors involved in these deals. That tells me that either the prospects have not done much due diligence or they play their cards pretty close to their vest.

    An interesting tactic if you want to see what a first offer might look like, but not exactly leveraging the competitive aspects to their fullest.

    Perhaps part of the problem is that we tend to have growth expectations that might have reflected trends in the 1990s, but no longer apply in the new millennium.

    One reason given was that both the vendors themselves and their internal champions (usually the DBA manager) have simply done a poor job defining the value proposition of relational database archiving.

    Clearly, the market for e-mail or unstructured data archiving has entered the mainstream. With IT governance being such a hot button today, perhaps it is understandable that the database archiving market would get the short end of the stick.

    Still, others said that building and educating the channel has been slower than expected. I think that perhaps we are seeing a hangover effect from the information lifecycle management push which many organizations realized early on was a $100 solution to a 10 cent problem.

    Rightly or wrongly, database archiving did get lumped into that message as it seemed at the time to be prudent to get behind the big marketing pitches of primarily EMC Corp., but eventually every storage management firm.

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    Whatever the reason, the database archive market, in my humble opinion, deserves to grow.

    After all, how often do we get offered a solution that has a short time-to-value and delivers unexpected benefits consistently?

    So before you invest in that larger server and buy those additional database licenses and hire additional DBAs, consider database archiving.

    It might be the best database-related investment you make.

    Editors Note: This story was updated to include Solix on the list of consulted vendors.

    Charles Garry is an independent industry analyst based in Simsbury, Conn. He is a former vice president with META Groups Technology Research Services. He can be reached at cegarry@yahoo.com.

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