We all love the surge of Open Data initiatives. Don't forget that Open Data's nastiest enemy is permanent loss of data. ...And who's making that happen?
It's a fact:
its minions are a “Phantom Menace”
to your data.
TIME and fragile storage media can cause valuable records to "decay" on the shelf.
TIME and the inevitable migration to new systems and media makes older archived files incompatible and unusable.
TIME, down-sizing and job-hopping programmers lead to undocumented programs and files that are difficult to decipher.
Note: A greater portion of the world's data resources
may be threatened by these factors than by terrorists and
Reasons to Keep “Old” Data
Legal Mandates are the overriding
consideration for government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, banks,
brokerage houses, etc. State and federal regulations provide severe penalties
for failure to preserve certain information.
Historical and Scientific Research is another motivation. Universities continue to run across "Old Professor's Stashes" with research material that can be re-purposed, providing valuable insights. Business analysts need long-term information to evaluate company or industry trends. In some cases, information accumulated by a company as a by-product of its normal work may be of sufficient value to sell to the public.
Electronic Evidence comes up more and more
often. Companies may need to deliver historical computer data as part of their
defense or in response to the discovery process. Pro-actively defending that
data now can save untold grief in the future.
30,000 IBM TAPE CARTRIDGES to Disk (Banking Regulations Satisfied): An astute Data Center Manager for a large international bank sought a way to demonstrate to regulators that he’d taken steps to ensure the viability of his long-term records. The trick was doing it with stable and inexpensive media, in a way that satisfied the government, and without spending a fortune. Enter MMC… See a recent article on this project from Data Center Management magazine.
"SUDDENLY VITAL" 15-Year-Old Data (Patent Suit Defense): This relatively ancient data became critical in defending a certain oil company against a patent-violation suit. Pertinent records were stored on 300 reels of backup tape from a "legacy" computer system in a proprietary word-processing format. Many of the tapes had been sitting on a shelf for decades and had physically and magnetically deteriorated. MMC used a variety of its capabilities to rescue hundreds of thousands of documents, additionally converting them to MS Word format. Information was then placed on CDROM for review by the court and attorneys for both sides. Details are available in the "Rocket Docket" article here.
IRAN/CONTRA, NIXON, Etc. (US Federal Records): MMC created the systems
used at the National Archives to preserve White House tapes, Warren Commission
findings and other federal electronic records for future research and
investigation. The development of this Archival Preservation System resulted in
a GSA Technology Excellence Award. After ten years of government-sponsored
refinement and improvement, the package forms the basis for our new commercial
preservation systems and services.
DISASTER RECOVERY (9/11 and the City’s Data): Offices of the NYC Law Dept. were completely demolished on 9/11/2001. MMC’s technicians worked overtime to retrieve hundreds of thousands of files. They duplicated valuable backup tapes from off-site storage locations and transferred files to CDs for each of five hundred attorneys so work could be carried on in the aftershock.
A large portion of our Data Preservation capability derives from the proprietary software we've developed over the years. Please have a look at our Systems and Software page for further details.
Of course, there's no substitute for experience--as exemplified by the case histories mentioned above. Further background information about the company can be found at our "About MMC" page.
Articles by or about MMC, as well as technical papers and other company literature can all be found, in Acrobat format, at our "Info/Library" page