Automated Tiering

Optimized Storage for the Modern Data Infrastructure

by Kurt Hildebrand

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The prevalence of digital technology has triggered an explosion of data over the past decade. This has made the job of storing and managing data ever more formidable, especially as enterprises increasingly rely on data mining, logistics, and analytics to increase revenue and improve operations.

Data storage technology has evolved to meet this challenge. Ongoing advances in storage technology have enabled bigger, faster, and more sophisticated storage arrays than ever before. But tight budgets, lack of floor space, and power constraints require IT professionals to implement an intelligent strategy for data storage and management.

One excellent way to optimize storage is to deploy automated tiering, a technology that automatically transfers the most frequently accessed data to the fastest storage tier and the least active data to lower-cost, larger-capacity storage tiers.

Automated tiering works particularly well for enterprises that deploy solid state drives (SSDs), which can access data much faster than hard drives but are limited in capacity.

By using embedded algorithms to categorize and prioritize data based on not just usage frequency but performance level, automated tiering solutions optimize the efficiency of an enterprise’s storage system.

Automated tiering will ensure that mission-critical, high-performance data that don’t require large capacity will be placed in higher-tier storage such as SSD or SAS (serial-attached SCSI), while non-mission-critical or low-performance data—along with data that requires high capacity or are expensive to run—are moved to larger-capacity, slower-speed, cost-effective hard drives.

Automatic data tiering technology which was once a relatively exotic feature of only the most cutting-edge disk arrays has become mainstream. Nearly all major vendors’ storage systems such as HP, EMC, Dell, and many others now include automated storage tiering technology as a standard feature. If your data center is not already employing some level of automated data tiering, now is the time to strongly consider the benefits of storage modernization in this area.

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