For a host of practical reasons, your organization must engage in some method of long-term records retention. It is likely that this is a topic that your organization has not spent much time thinking about or discussing, because a system that was in place earlier has been inherited and continues to be in use. If this system involves banker’s boxes, off premises physical storage, on premises archives, or even electronic files on premise, this might be a good time to review what you are retaining, how long you are retaining it for, how secure and efficient your system is, how much physical space it takes up, and if there are better solutions available. Hint: there are better solutions available! Here we will cover the advantages of transitioning from your old way of storing records over the long-term to a new system of cloud archiving.
Compliant Cloud-based Storage
Some industries such as pharmaceuticals, life sciences, and healthcare have regulatory compliance requirements for the long-term preservation of documents, sometimes up to 95 years. If these documents are retained in paper form there is likely a recurring cost for the physical climate-controlled space that it takes up on or off-premises, as well as a recurring investment of time and money whenever someone in-house or off-premises is tasked with locating and retrieving certain documents. It is also likely that there are records that are due to be destroyed, but they remain there because the task of identifying and retrieving those specific documents is arduous. Security of the documents is a constant threat, as disasters such as fire or flood can destroy the archives. Perhaps your organization has done away with the hard copies and is using an “air gapping” method of archive storage, retaining the records electronically on back up tapes that are physically isolated from the rest of the electronic world. This method has a smaller footprint, but still has similar disadvantages to retaining hard copies- retrieval is difficult, storage is costly, and there are still risks of data degradation.
Cloud-based archiving solutions are excellent alternatives to the old methods of long-term records retention, and about 50% of worldwide corporate data is held there1. Archived data is particularly suited for cloud storage as latency is not a concern, costs are low, and archives can be future-proofed. Cloud archive data can be stored in formats such as PDF/A which prohibits features unsuitable for long-term archiving such as font linking and encryption. Several well-known companies offer several cloud service models such as software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Due to the economies of scale and the prominence of these companies, these cloud platforms are both cost efficient and have low risk of disappearing or being shut down. Cloud archiving is a smart choice for record retention that allows organizations to unload the burden from the physical weight of physical records retained in a volatile (and expensive) physical world.
1 Statista, 2021, “Share of corporate data stored in the cloud in organizations worldwide from 2015-2021”