Colloquially, the terms DMS/ECM, document storage, and archive are often used as synonyms. In detail, however, there are important differences. In an archive, data is stored which must be kept for a certain period of time - immutable, revision-proof, legally compliant. DMS/ECM systems are also used (among other tasks) for filing, but mainly for ongoing business activities.
Establishing a secure archive storage system "behind" the DMS/ECM makes sense from multiple perspectives, and in certain cases is a legal requirement. Rationale:
- The audit-proof archive serves to comply with legal, industry-specific, and internal requirements (e.g. DSGVO, GoBD, SEC 17a-4, product liability).
- For audits and as evidence in court, data must be stored in a verifiably immutable form. It is insufficient to simply not delete data from the DMS.
- A modern archive system takes on additional tasks to ensure data integrity and protection, e.g. automatic integrity checks, encryption, WORM storage, and retention management at the storage level.
- Companies save valuable potential of their DMS/ECM systems and primary storage by using a long-term archive. Archive data can be stored cost-effectively on secondary storage or in the cloud.
Organizations must be clear about the goals of their data management and ask the right questions when evaluating the appropriate solution:
- Are compliance, data protection, and legal requirements met?
- Is the archive solution scalable to cope with future data growth?
- Is there a dependency on specific manufacturers or hardware?
- Can the archive solution be integrated into the existing IT infrastructure?
- Can data be easily migrated, e.g. when changing the DMS/ECM or storage infrastructure?
There is no lack of future-proof solutions today - the times of rigid hardware archive silos are over. The focus of modern archive solutions is on flexibility, independence, and efficiency. The Software-Defined Archiving approach is based on exactly these parameters. With this concept, a software solution provides the archive intelligence, not the storage hardware or the DMS/ECM. The archive middleware connects the applications (ECM, DMS, ERP, PACS, ...) and the storage infrastructure. As a central platform, the software takes care of data integrity, WORM storage, and retention management.
With the help of Software-Defined Archiving, companies can create a central archive which is hardware-independent and is based on the existing IT infrastructure. Because software solutions are much easier to adapt to new requirements than hardware appliances, they allow long-term compliance with existing and new requirements.
In summary, not deleting data from the DMS/ECM is not sufficient for compliance-compliant storage, as it does not guarantee data integrity or immutability. These tasks are performed by a long-term archive "behind" the DMS/ECM, whereby the Software-Defined Archiving approach represents a future-proof, flexible, and cost-effective solution.