Virtual storage presents many hazards to data integrity

Businesses have many options available to them today in regard to meeting their data storage needs. In addition to traditional HDDs, solid state drives, cloud services and virtual processes have all emerged as potential repositories for important information and files. However, the increasing number of available services and products also mean that company leaders need to take a closer look at the features they offer to ensure that the right solution is chosen.

There are many factors to consider when investing in a new data storage device or service. For instance, users who are only concerned about raw capacity may opt for an HDD, while those who also need high performance and quick application launch speeds might want to consider SSD drives. Perhaps the greatest consideration should be saved for cloud or virtual storage solutions, however. Many prospective adopters who are unfamiliar with this technology often assume that information is more secure in a virtualized environment than on physical media. A recent study from Kroll Ontrack found that 80 percent of companies assume that storing information in the cloud or virtual system will reduce the likelihood of data loss, according to Infosecurity. However, approximately 40 percent of businesses that leverage these services have experienced data loss incidents within the last year.

Businesses that choose to go this route with their storage needs do so largely because of cost concerns. The elimination of on-site physical equipment can be viewed as a potential cost-saving measure, however, a severe data loss event could completely offset any potential operational savings. There are many issues to consider with leveraging a cloud or virtual storage service, including who will ultimately be responsible for ensuring the security, integrity and availability of important information.

"It is a common misconception that virtual environments are inherently safer than, or at less risk from data loss, than other storage media," explained Kroll Ontrack U.K.'s Paul Le Messurier, according to the source. "Although virtual servers have redundancies built-in, increased complexity generally means more potential causes of data loss, including file system corruption, deleted virtual machines, internal virtual disk corruption, RAID and other storage/server hardware failures and deleted or corrupt files contained within virtualized storage systems. The effects are also usually far more serious because the volume of data stored in a virtual environment is exponential to that stored on a single physical server or storage device."

Archiving solutions needed to secure data
Another cause for concern regarding these types of storage options is that only one-third of organizations that were subjected to a data loss incident last year were able to recover every piece of information that was compromised. Under these circumstances, it would be prudent for businesses to have an alternative option available in case critical information is completely irretrievable. DIGISTOR Enterprise Archive solutions offer a reliable method of backing up important and highly sensitive data in the event that other storage services fail or are inaccessible. Businesses cannot fully rely on cloud or virtual platforms as their sole options to hold their critical documents. When dealing with such complex systems and networks, operability issues will inevitably arise, and organizational leaders need to be ready to lean on a stable archiving solution to retrieve any information that cannot be replaced.

Booz Allen Hamilton senior associate Vic Winkler explained in a post for TechNet Magazine that the intricacies of virtualized environments can create conditions under which data loss is likely to occur. When operating a virtual system, administrators who are intimately familiar with the complexity of the infrastructure may accidentally compromise information stored within it.

"During the deployment and operation of a [virtual machine], data is written to physical memory," Winkler stated. "If it's not cleared before those resources are reallocated to the next VM, there's a potential for exposure. … The bottom line: Control how you use storage and memory when using a public cloud. Clear the data yourself, carefully handle operations against sensitive data, and pay particular attention to access and privilege controls. Another excellent security practice is to verify that a released resource was cleared."

While cloud and virtual storage solutions certainly have their benefits, they should never be the sole retainer of critical business documents. A reliable backup solution such as DIGISTOR Enterprise Archive can remove much of the risk involved with storing sensitive data in the cloud or on a virtual server. Using durable Blu-ray media capable of holding 100 gigabytes of data, DIGISTOR's data archiving solutions can back up the entire enterprise. Because the high-quality discs are TUV certified by Panasonic, businesses can be sure that their important information will be secured for up to 100 years. If disaster strikes and primary storage options are rendered inaccessible, DIGISTOR Enterprise Archive can mean the difference between getting operations back online without delay and running adrift as critical information is lost forever.

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