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When It Comes to Storage Tiering, Money Is Everything

by on October 4, 2011

If data storage were free, every bit and byte could be stored alike. All data could be considered part of a single high-priority tier, readily and speedily available at any given moment, until the end of time. But this scenario isn’t reality—nor would we want it to be. Storing masses of data in a single tier would become unmanageable for most businesses, not to mention present legal and security risks no business wants to deal with. Plus, storing all of that data—both low-value, inactive data and mission-critical, frequently used data—on the most expensive media would just be cost prohibitive. So what’s a business to do?


Many businesses are finding the answer in storage tiering. Storage tiering involves developing a hierarchy of data within an organization. The business classifies its data into tiers, assigning value to different data sets based on criteria like performance and retention requirements and business value. The different tiers are then assigned to different storage media and systems in a way that lets the organization store all of its data as cost efficiently as possible. Customer records accessed daily? Assigned to a higher tier with higher-cost storage media and systems. Data kept for extended time periods for compliance purposes but perhaps never again accessed? Classified into a lower tier with lower-cost storage media and systems. Add an active archive front end to the mix, and you gain the ability to access offline content as if it were online, making all of your content accessible but storing it all as inexpensively as possible.

Storage tiering takes full advantage of the strengths of both disk and tape, particularly the economics of tape. As the most cost-effective long-term storage medium, tape is perfect for the masses of data that must be stored over the long term. With tiered storage, companies can store only the most frequently accessed data on disk for speed and performance. The rest of the firm’s data—which makes up the vast majority, an estimated 80 percent of data stores—can be stored on low-cost, reliable, energy-efficient, easy-to-manage tape. 

Thinking about making the shift to storage tiering, adjusting your existing tiering hierarchy or adding a new automated tiering tool in your enterprise? You might want to check out this podcast for some best practices. With the world’s data doubling every two years and 1.8 zettabytes being created and replicated this year alone, you’ll want to evaluate how you can best put tiering to work for your business. Get it right, and results like running applications four to 10 times faster, cutting storage costs by 71% and reducing storage administration time by half could be in your future.

One Comment
  1. I have seen a couple small places go to a model like this. It seams to work good and finding data is a little better. But you have to plan it out…

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