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Importance of Tiered Storage for Enterprises

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Importance of Tiered Storage for Enterprises

Data storage typically consumes a sizable portion of IT expenses. Cloud-based storage, object storage, and decentralized storage are three examples of the newer forms of data storage technologies that have emerged in response to the exponential growth in the amount of data being generated.

Implementing tiers in storage is a method for making the most of your storage space, backing up your data without wasting time or money, and taking advantage of the most suitable storage technology for each type of data.

What is Tiered Storage?

Tiered storage is a strategy that involves allocating distinct categories of data to various types of storage media. This method aims to increase the speed and resilience of mission-critical applications while lowering overall storage costs.

Depending on its importance to the company, data in a tiered storage system is organized in tiers according to how frequently users and applications access it. To further organize the data, it is placed into storage tiers that vary in capacity, speed, and media costs.

The quickest and more costly storage media is often reserved for the most crucial data. Data with the highest priority might be stored on a combination of flash SSDs and Intel Optane memory modules in a first, high-performance tier, while data with a lower priority may be stored on traditional disk drives in a second, lower-performance layer.

Then, data that must be maintained perpetually might be archived in a third tier, either on tape drives or cloud-based storage.

Tiered Storage is beneficial for disaster recovery processes. A Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) must be established for disaster recovery plans. An ideal system would prevent data loss while allowing instantaneous recovery. This would come at a high price, but storage tiering comes in handy.

What are the Types of Data in a Tiered Storage

Mission-critical data

Due to its importance, this data must always be kept on the most secure storage tier, where it can support high-throughput applications like customer transactions. Lack of access to this mission-critical data may lead to mediocre output, lost sales opportunities, and other issues that eat into profits. A Data Retention Policy is also beneficial for separating different types of data.

Hot data

Given the high frequency of its use, this data type necessitates a somewhat extensive storage hierarchy. Email, software solutions like ERP or CRM, and everything else the organization uses daily depend on this type of data. Even while performance is still vital, the cost is going to play a larger role at this tier.

Warm data

This data is often several days old and includes details of prior transactions and communications that are rarely accessed but must be kept for periodic reference. Here, cost overtakes performance as the primary concern, with the caveat that certain baseline requirements must be met.

Cold data

Even if this data is stored, it may not be used again and would be archived. It might be unstructured data that has potential benefits in big data mining, or it could be required to be kept for regulatory reasons. The cost of storing cold data such as this should be kept as low as possible, and the access time should be either minutes or hours.

The Different Levels of Storage Tiers

Until solid-state and flash storage were developed, Tier 1 storage was considered the highest storage tier possible. Data that was once saved only in Tier 1 is now mostly kept in Tier 0 because of its superior performance.

Tier 0

Mission-critical applications that cannot afford any downtime or delay should use Tier 0 storage, the quickest and most costly tier in the hierarchy. Zero-tier data often consists of high-volume transactional databases used in industries including analytics, finance, healthcare, and security.

Even though Tier 0 data is the costliest option, it's important to consider whether or not the improved performance is worth the additional expense in terms of, say, reduced time to market or more revenue. Tier 0 storage devices can range from flash SSDs to storage class memory (SCM) modules and SSDs like Optane.

Tier 1

‍Tier 1 storage is often reserved for transactional support data required by customer-facing systems like retail apps and other high-performance applications that can't function with anything more than momentary delays. The storage system used by a Tier 1 solution is often more cost-effective than that of a Tier 0 solution.

Tier 2

Data that users need quick access to frequently, such as ERP and CRM data, is stored in Tier 2. For the most part, this means significantly more data and hard drives with medium-to-high performance and great capacity at a cheap cost per GB stored compared to Tier 0 and Tier 1.

When it comes to business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR), many companies choose Tier 2 storage as their secondary storage, housing their Tier 0 and Tier 1 backups. If data on your primary storage fails, you may swiftly recover critical files using your tier 2 system.

Tier 3

Data accessed infrequently but routinely and without too much delay is placed in Tier 3 storage, such as archived emails and completed transactions. To meet the high capacity and low-cost needs of Tier 3 storage, it is more economical to implement high capacity, relatively low-speed hard disk storage, such as SATA drives, instead of high-performance RAID arrays.

Tier 4

The purpose of data storage at the Tier 4 level is to archive inactive data for use at a later time. Cloud storage tiers, optical media, or hard disk storage systems are suitable options for this sort of data since there is time to recover data, and the cost is the most important consideration.

Importance of Automatic Storage Tiering

With automated storage tiering, you may dynamically adjust storage tiers to best suit your needs. Data usage and access are constantly tracked to determine data priority and tiering requirements. It allows you to set your own limits and let the software handle everything else.

If the data is accessed more frequently, it will be upgraded to a lower-latency tier. Data that isn't actively used gets demoted to a cheaper but slower tier. As a result, automated storage tiering saves money and increases efficiency with little to no work and maintenance.

What are the advantages of Tiered Storage?

Less expensive storage

With tiered storage, enterprises may choose the storage tier that provides the minimum required performance for a certain data type at the most cost-effective rate. This solves the problem of having to fork over money for high-performance storage that isn't being used.

Improved capacity utilization and efficiency

Disk storage systems with high performance typically have poor energy efficiency. Lower-priority data is moved to cheaper, less-reliable storage tiers in a tiered storage system, relieving pressure on expensive backup methods like RAID and short-stroked storage.

Reuse old storage hardware

Storage tiering also lets enterprises reuse older, unused storage equipment. Despite being unable to handle tier 0 or tier 1 workloads, servers and storage appliances can continue to serve a useful purpose for tier 2 and tier 3 data. Storage managers may make better use of present resources and delay the need to purchase new hardware as data volumes increase by employing a tiered storage architecture.

Better disaster recovery

As the volume of data the Disaster Recovery system needs to recover after a disaster is decreased thanks to a tiered storage architecture, the expenses associated with meeting a zero-recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) are also minimized. Classifying data properly guarantees the data is always in the best possible state for recovery, making RPO and RTO two of the most crucial criteria for data backup or disaster recovery strategy.

Cost savings in using public cloud storage

Public cloud storage is often priced on a per-GB or per-month basis, so any savings in this area will result in a substantial decrease in recurring expenditures. Using public cloud storage tiers allows organizations to cut costs without sacrificing the ability to provide different users access to different data types at varying access levels.

The percentage of hot data fluctuates, although it is usually acknowledged to be between ten and twenty percent at any one moment. The most expensive and quickest storage should be reserved for this frequently requested information, while the other eighty percent to ninety percent should be kept on a less expensive storage tier.

How businesses use tiering depends on their unique data storage, processing power, and software needs. A modern IT department may be responsible for supporting anything from two to five levels.

Organizations are not required to stick to this specific tiering configuration; they can use more or fewer tiers as they see fit. However, this illustrates the fundamental ideas of a tiered storage system.