> Sent: Jeff Fronius Friday, November 14, 2008 11:45 AM
> Subject: Re: Electronic media stored with paper records at a
> storage facility
> I would be more concerned over a potential fire than the lifespan
> of the
Now there is a man with my mindset. What about fire? Numerous
discussions we have had over the years have spoken to the requirement
of the records manager: to first and foremost ensure the survival of
the records (in what ever format) until the end of the retention
period. A fire in the corporate environment can ruin that company. A
fire in an offsite environment has the potential of a large hurricane
or natural disaster. Thousands of companies affected by one
When I entered this arena of secure records about 30 years ago, if I
could find the records manager, I could find a records vault.
Protecting vital records was taken very seriously. To many today,
vital records is just another classification with no special strategy
of protection. NFPA 232 still talks about protecting records in
vaults. But few are familiar with the Standard.
If you remember the huge furor a few years ago about "Digits to
Dust!", then our current discussion is relevant. The simple fact of
aging can cause records to become destroyed. It was for this reason
that "Spoliation" was written into Sarbanes Oxley. A clever CEO,
using a delaying tactic on litigation, could simply continue to store
his media in known deficient storage conditions until those
conditions made the records useless. Or he or she could switch to a
new platform (software & equipment) making the older media obsolete
and force the plaintiff to spend huge sums of money to migrate the
data or transform it into a document that was readable again. Thus
dramatically increasing the cost of the lawsuit. Or the simplest and
safest method to ensure they never make it to discovery, arson.
Since many records managers have abrogated their role from the
protection side, the mantle is picked up on the IT side of records
management. While there are no statistics to back this up, I think
it is a safe conjecture that more records are protected by IT with
their media sets than paper is on the RM side. There are probably 200
companies specializing in media vaulting on the offsite storage side
and several thousand proprietary internal programs that vault either
their media or their servers. And, the vaulting of data centers is an
increasing trend for protecting large volumes of information.
SNIP from Fred Grevin
> Life expectancies of 10, 17, and 28 years are
> estimated for storage conditions of 72 F & 50% RH, 68 F and 40% RH,
> 65 F & 30% RH, respectively. In these examples, both the humidity and
> temperature have been reduced simultaneously. However, it is not
> necessary to reduce both to see a benefit in media longevity.
> Either the
> temperature or humidity can be reduced with benefit to the media."
One of the key selling elements of offsite media vaulting is that
they provide an ideal storage environment with low humidity and low
temperature; but even more importantly this storage condition is held
constant thus eliminating cycling of the media.
> "You can currently purchase WORM disks which are guaranteed for 100
> years. However, considering the explosive growth of CD-ROM and CD-R
> technologies, it is doubtful that WORM technology will be viable in 10
> more years [this was written in 1996]. WORM disks will undoubtedly
> outlive WORM technology."
If one interviews a computer engineering professor and they define
their goal with designing a new computer, or technology; one of the
key design elements is sustainability of that platform. Yet this is
the biggest failure of computer technology. They never leave well-
enough alone. So no matter what the NIST states about media
stability, the NIST cannot speak to the fact of whether that media
will even be popular in five years.
They say that less than 30% of computer generated documents ever see
paper. That number continues to move downward. (Paperless, never;
less paper in the total process, assuredly)
It is this fact that IT will move from servers and tape to virtual
servers and virtual tape, to disk to disk, to Cloud Computing that
make them unreliable without RM supervision. With all the gains in
computing they still have not taken even one more step towards being
trustworthy. Cloud Computing is the ultimate in an untrustworthy
destination as it mixes software and data and records copies in a
million places with no real tracking ability. Good luck on that data
But never fear just as it gains popularity some new technology will
make it obsolete. IT and technology remind me of the fable about the
scorpion and the frog. The scorpion asks the frog to save it by
swimming it to shore, as it is drowning. The frog says "No you will
sting me!" To which the scorpion responds "Oh No! I would not sting
you because you would die and I would then drown." As the frog is
swimming the scorpion to shore, it stings him! Because that is the
nature of scorpions. And so it is with computer technology and
software. It is their nature to continually change as that is what
creates sales revenue and profits. And the mess they leave behind
does not impact their own books.
This I think this is a key point for records managers to position
themselves as that bridge between technology, records management and
a firm stance for potential pending litigation. I believe that
records managers need to be part of the overall plan to protect the
records even if it is only by directing the vaulting of offsite media
in a proper environment. Environmentally, and with fire protection
consistent with fragile data media and with tracking software that
assists in the continual data mapping of the information assets.
This is the role I see cutting edge records managers evolving towards.
I was impressed at this year's ARMA Conference with how savvy RM's
have become. The RM's I visited with in my booth really seemed to
grasp the new roles open to them in RM. Maybe this evolution will
lead RM back into vaulting records again. One can only hope.
FIRELOCK Fireproof Modular Vaults
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