Tiered storage is proving to be one of the more effective means to improve network efficiency and reduce costs in the enterprise, particularly when coupled with other advanced technologies like virtualization and deduplication.
A good place to start is this article on InfoStor Magazine, which spells out a number of configuration strategies that reduce "SAN creep" and simplifies provisioning, data migration and other tasks that normally add 50 percent of the hardware costs over the life of an array. Storage virtualization is a key enabler here because it allows applications to map their view of storage anywhere on the network, allowing data to be moved without affecting works in progress.
An effective tiering strategy also requires a robust management infrastructure, with many firms setting up their own information lifecycle management frameworks, according to InformationWeek. One critical component of ILM is the classification engine that assigns value to data so it can be stored on the appropriate tier. Unfortunately, determining that value is a tricky prospect, with managers having to weigh the data's source, age, relevance and a host of other metrics.
And while there are no full-scale ILM products per se, there are a number of storage management solutions that can at least make the data transfer from tier to tier a little easier. Attune Systems recently brought Data Domain's deduplication technology into its Maestro File Manager virtualization system, a move that allows deduped data to be automatically targeted to secondary or nearline storage for archiving, backup and disaster recovery operations.
Tiering is also making strong headway in the online storage industry. AmeriVault says it is driving down the cost of storage through its new AmeriVault Tiered Storage (ATS) service that allows clients to set their own policies for automatic migration of less valuable data to lower-cost disk tiers.
With today's complex data networks, the ideal storage environment has become something of a chimera -- a concept that's just too elusive in the real world. But that doesn't mean current infrastructures can't be improved, particularly when the savings can be substantial.