Creating Trustworthy Archives
by Steve Tongish - Marketing Director (EMEA) of Plasmon Data Ltd. - Tuesday, 23 September 2003.
The File Management link oversees the logical read/write access to all records. This controls the deletion or overwriting of files, write verification and security / file encryption (as required). File Management software could be part of a Record Management Application, but is often a separate product(s) that operates between Record Management and the operating system to control records at a file level.

Storage Management is the physical recording of records and the management of the storage infrastructure. For example, when an electronic record is written to a storage device, the device may verify the accurate completion of the write operation and pass the verification back through the chain to the Record Management Application. This allows the application to accurately report on audit trail information. In addition to managing individual storage devices, the Storage Management link would also control the use of removable media libraries (optical and tape), which are commonly used in archival storage environments.

The last link in the chain is the actual storage media used to record the data in the records. There are several possible choices including magnetic disk, tape and optical storage media. Each of these technologies offers different performance, longevity and cost attributes. As with any link, choosing the correct media type will be critical to the overall strength of the chain.

Magnetic disk is the only real solution for active data sets since it provides the performance needed for interactive operations. However, as a long-term archival storage medium it doesn't offer the stability of other media and can be very expensive for large configurations. Tape is most commonly used for backup and disaster recovery environments since it's a high capacity, inexpensive removable media. Tape can be used for archives, but random access times are slow and it must be carefully maintained and rewritten to ensure data integrity.

By contrast, 5.25 inch optical storage technology has been designed specifically for long-term electronic archives. With a media life of more than 50 years, it is an extremely stable and cost effective technology. The fact the 5.25 inch optical solutions are available in both Rewritable and Write Once formats is another major strength within archive environments. Many organisations use Write Once optical as the final link in their Chain of Trust since it provides best-case audit trail accountability for storage records and meets or exceeds government and industry archival storage regulations.

Just like a physical chain, the Chain of Trust for record archives consists of multiple interrelated links of equal importance. One weak link in the chain can jeopardise the trustworthiness of all records. Since individual requirements vary dramatically, the design for a Chain of Trust must begin with a clear understanding of the exact regulations and corporate standards that need to be met. With this in hand, the individual links can be forged and data trustworthiness can be established.

The Cohasset White Paper on Trustworthy Storage referenced in the second footnote is available for download from the Plasmon website -


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