If you are responsible for IBM Notes and Domino databases, you’ve at some point probably found yourself thinking about the future of the data in this way: What if I’m asked to restore specific Notes documents that were created ten years ago? If the only archive I have access to is a backup from ten years ago, it will take me hours to dig the documents up.
We all know that creating backups and archiving are two different processes. Besides the regular Lotus Notes backup, you still need to preserve Notes and Domino data (or more precisely, both content and data) for long-term retention, and this requires a different approach.
VHS tapes and NSF files
Remember VHS tapes? There are still so many of those cassettes around without any compatible device at hand. Similarly, when you archive your Lotus Notes NSF databases, you have to bear in mind that the same system you used to create the archive will also have to be in place later in order to restore your data when needed. Does such an approach work for five-year retention periods? Or ten years, or more?
When planning your archiving strategy, it is the required data-retention periods that dictate your archival format, and not vice-versa. So if you archive your data as NSF today, you will still be dependent on Notes and Domino [put your retention period here] years from now. And with the future of Notes/Domino hanging in the balance, as well as the number of Notes developers and administrators declining, staying dependent on Notes and Domino in the long run may not be a very good idea.
Platform independence score
This leads us to the platform independence score. You can judge your data-archiving method by the level of platform independence it provides. The less you depend on a proprietary data format, the higher your platform independence is.
The platform independence score is not only determined by the current availability of the platform, it’s also determined by how well the platform is supported by your vendor, as well as how many skilled professionals qualified to maintain the platform are available for hire (Notes and Domino specialists in this case).
Archive completeness score
Additionally, data should be preserved within a context that business users are expecting to see and are able to understand. When it comes to Notes and Domino data, such a context is typically presented with the original document layouts, document views, the hierarchical relationships between the documents, links, attachments, and metadata.
So moving along with this train of thought, we’ve also introduced an archive completeness score which, together with the platform independence score, may be used to rate the four commonly used methods of archiving Notes and Domino application data.
Four Methods of Notes/Domino Application Archiving
Depending on how high an archiving method ranks against these two criteria, the business will be in a position to either save or lose time and money in the long run. Below is a closer look at each of the four methods together with our completeness/independence scores.