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Archiving reduces risk & costs for financial sector

Complying with government regulations, passing audits and preparing for possible legal proceedings requires maintaining information for specific periods of time. Not surprisingly, this need for data retention is particularly pronounced in the financial services sector. In the United States, the Bank Secrecy Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, USA Patriot Act and other mandates require long-term retention of a variety of data. Financial institutions (FIs) must keep customer statements and reconciliations records for three years while storing loan notes and documents permanently. Meanwhile, the Rules of Civil Procedure require that FIs facilitate rapid discovery of electronic data for audits and court cases, which are almost a certainty for any FI.

While these requirements aren't lost on midsized FIs, too often they address information retention simply by backing up everything without discrimination. But adding new servers and storage capacity is costly up front in terms of acquiring and maintaining additional hardware. What's more, to prepare for audits or deliver information for court cases, IT administrators are pulled away from strategic projects to sift through multiple servers to find relevant data.

Retention should address risk while controlling costs

FIs need a smarter approach. To succeed on a smarter planet, where more and more data is being produced and captured, midsized FIs must implement strategies that recognize their new responsibilities for protecting and storing sensitive information. At the same time, FIs must eliminate the adversarial relationship between risk and cost, in which risk declines only when costs go up.

On a planet infused with information, employing new systems and new approaches to business challenges can open up new possibilities for progress. By implementing an archiving and data retention strategy, FIs can address risk while simultaneously reducing operational expenditures. They can achieve new levels of efficiency and attract new customers by investing cost savings into new services such as online banking capabilities, analytical tools or financial advising.

Policies and technology simplifies management, cuts costs

An archiving and retention strategy recognizes that not all data is created equal. While backup strategies store all data indiscriminately, an effective strategy adopts a more organized and logical approach to storage, taking into account the type, value and lifecycle of data. By implementing data retention policies, administrators can dictate which data is saved, where it is kept and how long it will be stored. Instituting this type of selective data preservation helps to manage storage growth and reduce costs while still ensuring compliance with government regulations and legal discovery standards.

Data retention policies ensure not only that information is stored for the right amount of time, but also that it is destroyed at the end of its lifecycle. Keeping customers' financial data for too long increases risk: a security breach would expose that information unnecessarily. Destroying data at the appropriate time helps to reduce storage needs while keeping businesses and their customers protected.

Pairing data retention policies with tiered storage capabilities can help control costs by matching the value and access frequency of data with the performance and cost of the storage medium. While frequently accessed data should be kept on high-performance disks, less active data can be moved to more cost-effective, higher-density drives. A tiered storage environment also can help keep financial information safe by moving archival data to long-term storage where it is better protected from accidental or malicious erasure.

FIs can further drive down costs and simplify management of storage by capitalizing on deduplication capabilities integrated into archiving solutions. Deduplication intelligently reduces storage needs by eliminating redundant data so that only one instance of a data set is actually stored. This process can help FIs keep all the data they need while making the best use of hardware resources.

Additionally, automating common archival tasks such as the migration of data from one storage tier to the next helps to ensure optimal utilization of resources while enabling IT staff to stay focused on more strategic projects.

Tools amplify the return on investment

The influx of data produced in the financial services industry is unlikely to ebb any time soon. Implementing an effective archiving and retention strategy can help protect that data and ensure regulatory compliance, while also driving down costs and complexity. But a new strategy for preserving data also can create new opportunities. By incorporating tools to increase the efficiency of searching and retrieving stored information, FIs can amplify the return on archiving investments.

Unlike backup strategies, archival solutions can provide searchable metadata, enabling administrators, employees, auditors or legal teams to find the information they need quickly and respond rapidly to information requests. And that's just a start. With information stored in the right place for specific purposes, organizations can more easily capitalize on cross-marketing opportunities, enhance fraud detection and improve customer service. The need to maintain information for set periods of time isn’t going to go away, but with today's archiving solutions, midsized FIs can make many of the headaches associated with data retention disappear.

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