What Is an Enterprise Vault and How Can You Use It with the Cloud?

An enterprise vault is a solution organizations use to store and protect data for extended periods of time. This approach helps maintain data integrity.

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What Is an Enterprise Vault and How Can You Use it With the Cloud? 

According to a 2016 survey, an average enterprise manages close to 348 terabytes (TB) of data. For a modern organization relying on digital operations to function, employees must be able to access, analyze, modify, and move this data easily. Typically, this is handled by digital workplace solutions and cloud technology. 

But as more organizations make their operations digital and move them to cloud solutions, difficulties with managing and migrating massive quantities of data are cropping up. Regulated industries in particular run into issues, as some of their data must be stored securely over time. Finding a balance between short- and long-term requirements in storage solutions is key. And at the crossroads of this dilemma is where enterprise vaults come into play.

What Is an Enterprise Vault?

An enterprise vault is a data collection, storage, and analysis solution for keeping organizational information safe for a long period of time. It is the digital or cloud equivalent of archives or storage rooms of businesses’ past, keeping old records safe for a later date. Vaults make it easy for organizations to maintain data integrity of high-risk information for extended timeframes. They also offer tools for searching across the entire set of data to find the specific information. 

Enterprise vaults are commonly used to store communications within the organization. In the past, these systems collected and stored only emails. Now as organizations use more complex workplace digital solutions, the scope of data collection has also increased. Most enterprise vaults today collect communications from Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other instant messaging tools. They can also collect voice communication data and the information shared on an organization’s social media. 

The purpose of enterprise vaults is mostly for compliance with industry regulations. Vaults are commonly used in heavily regulated industries such as finance, healthcare, and the government sectors. Regulatory authorities may periodically request this data and if the organization is not able to provide it, they may face severe penalties or legal action. Enterprise vaults make compliance easy for organizations and reduce the resources spent on meeting requirements. 

How Does an Enterprise Vault Work? 

An enterprise vault may be deployed on the cloud or on-premise. The solution integrates with the organization’s communication platforms to continuously collect data. 

An enterprise vault features three different components. The most prominent of these is the archive where the data is stored. The archives are designed to keep the data in an immutable form, often in a Write Once Read Many format. The decisions made to manage the archive are an exercise in risk management; if too much data is stored, it can become too expensive, and if the required data is not stored, regulatory authorities may impose penalties. 

The archives are connected to the data collectors usually through simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP). These data collectors connect with sources like emails, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, as well as Instant Bloomberg, Eikon by Thomson Reuters, Google Drive, Dropbox, and others. Admins can set policies, rules, and patterns that dictate which data is collected and which can be ignored. The connectors have their own databases and servers to manage functionality. 

The third part is the interface through which admins can decide the retention rules and analyze the collected data. These tools help researchers sift through all available data to find relevant content and the information they are looking for. Modern enterprise vaults use artificial intelligence to analyze and provide context to the data within the archives. 

What Are the Data Management Challenges of an Enterprise Vault?

Major challenges associated with data management of an enterprise vault are related to the varying compliance requirements based on different regions and industries. 

In the United States, one of the important laws that dictate data retention is the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). According to this act, federal agencies as well as some public and private entities are required to maintain operational data with integrity and confidentiality, and make sure the information is available within reasonable time frames. The exact nature of data and the duration for which it must be stored are specified in the law. 

Many other regions have similar laws. For example, Australia has the Telecommunication Amendment Act, which requires ISPs to retain email, telephony, and internet usage metadata for two years. In the EU, the Data Retention Directive requires communications providers retain data for six months to two years. 

Organizations also face challenges in making this data easily accessible. With the large amount of data stored, it is not easy to find information you are trying to locate. It is often difficult to identify relevant versus irrelevant data. 

This creates further challenges with data disposal. Organizations may not have the necessary policies or tools to get rid of unnecessary data, creating huge storage requirements. 

Naturally, there are inherent risks to storing data digitally. There is no physical copy of this data, so if it is accidentally deleted or someone modifies it, there is the possibility it may be lost forever. 

Enterprise Vaults and Data Archiving 

Enterprise vault solutions help organizations store large quantities of data over long periods of time. These solutions are critical for data retention. They help enterprises collect relevant data automatically and easily access it. The vault approach also reduces resources needed to store the communications and other data needed to maintain regulatory compliance. 

Because organizations and their employees churn out vast amounts of data constantly, it takes a lot of resources to manually collect and store them. Enterprise vaults considerably reduce any delay with data access by empowering organizations to significantly automate data compliance requirements. 

What Is Data Archiving? 

Data archiving is the process of identifying data that is not used actively and storing it for use later. This can include communications, emails, plans, policies that are no longer active, and any other relevant information. 

Enterprises often archive data as part of legal requirements and evidence to protect them from lawsuits. 

Unlike data backups, the information in archives is not active anymore, and rarely accessed or modified. The data archival methods change accordingly; instead of prioritizing quick retrieval, the focus is on maintaining data integrity and reducing costs. 

Read Seagate’s Multicloud Maturity Report to learn more about effective cloud and data retention strategies.