You Call That Big? Four Important Tiers Of Storage

The numbers can seem daunting. IDC predicted in its most recent Digital Universe study that the world would generate 2.7 trillion gigabytes of data, up 50 percent from 2011. McKinsey & Co. predicts that the amount of data generated will grow 40 percent each year through 2020. With a high percentage of that data now digital, particularly video content, organisations data sets and storage demands are getting larger. Government organisations that utilise video surveillance are dealing with that growth first hand.

It is often necessary to store surveillance video for a longer period of time and the files tend to be very large. In fact, according to a Seagate Whitepaper, more than 18.4 billion gigabytes of storage is required to support the world’s surveillance cameras for only a two-week recording period. Similarly, in that two-week period, the amount of storage demanded by today’s surveillance systems is 880 times more than the entire capacity manufactured in the year 1995.

As this type of critical business data continues to increase, IT Managers at federal, state and local organisations require better, more efficient storage infrastructures. Often, though, data growth-driven storage demand is hindered by tightened corporate purse strings. Surveillance data and other content is an important asset for federal organisations, yet few have an optimised, secure storage strategy in place. Many federal contractors deal with the data deluge by buying more primary storage.

While this approach keeps data close at hand, it is excessively expensive and makes it difficult to find specific data—similar to looking for a needle in a haystack. A better solution can be found in an approach proven in enterprises called storage tiering, where data is stored in higher performance, lower cost storage, or longer-life types of storage over time, based on the current value of the data to the organisation. This keeps the data readily available when it is most needed, while cost-effectively and securely storing it for use down the line.

Storage tiering is not a new concept, but it may be new to growing government organisations that are being increasingly challenged by the volume of data they are creating. By learning about tiered storage, and by building data archiving, backup and other data management solutions on top of a tiered storage infrastructure, government organizations can reduce content storage costs, quickly transfer large data sets and safeguard valuable data. The tiered approach uses higher-cost storage for business critical data, lower-cost storage for nearline access, and removable tape or disk, or cloud storage for low-access data needs.

Tier One: Online

The Online storage tier is where a company’s active, primary production data resides. High-cost, online storage is usually reserved for data that is most frequently accessed and is of highest importance, yet many companies still use the same online storage technologies for backup. This approach is expensive and susceptible to failure.

Tier Two: Nearline

The Nearline storage tier represents an intermediary stage between online storage, which enables rapid data access, and offline storage, which is more affordable but requires more time for data access. To reduce storage costs without dramatically reducing speed of data access, companies can replicate data to a nearline data protection device. They also can set policies for types of data that should be stored online or nearline. This tier of data access can provide a copy of data in the event that online data is compromised.

Tier Three: Offline

The Offline storage tier maintains copies of archived data at a physically remote location. The best data management solutions enable multiple ways to do this, including removable media that can be transported to another site. RDX is a good example of a removable media format that delivers cost efficient backup, recovery and archiving.

RDX is a unique type of media that offers all of the advantages of disk-to-disk storage, including high performance and a low failure rate, plus the removability and portability of tape. As removable storage, RDX supports offsite storage for disaster recovery and offers a practical way to seed cloud storage. New secure versions of RDX media also feature encryption and cryptographic erase capabilities.

Tier Four: Offsite

Government organisations need a system that will not only provide an onsite copy of data for fast restoration, but also an offsite copy if the disaster causes damage to the primary storage location. As confidence in cloud providers continues to increase, more companies will utilize cloud storage for offsite backup. The main benefits of cloud storage are threefold. First, the cloud provides true disaster recovery and business continuity. It adds critical offsite storage to ensure that a business’ most important asset is accessible in the event of a disaster.

Second, cloud providers offer pay-as-you-go options, which enable businesses to account for storage as an operational expense, not a capital expense. Finally, cloud storage is infinitely scalable, and additional capacity can be used when needed. However, it is important to keep in mind that scalability is not just about the size or amount of storage. The speed of access and throughput must also be scalable.

A four-tier, RDX-based storage approach offers organisations scalability and agility as the amount of data being stored increases exponentially. RDX serves as a ruggedised transport of data from the field to the office. Companies need to look for appliances that support increased-capacity media cartridges or the easy addition of new appliances or arrays. It can seem daunting for organisations to overhaul their storage infrastructure while restricted by a tight budget — implementing a four tiered storage strategy is the best approach for cost-effective optimization and data backup.

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Luc Gheysens joined Imation with nearly 30 years in the data storage industry and a successful track record managing growth businesses. Luc joined Imation from Oracle/Sun Microsystems, where he was Senior Director of Storage Sales in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Prior to Oracle, Luc held senior leadership positions with NextiraOne, Software AG, Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products. Luc began his technology career at IBM, where over 15 years, he held roles of increasing responsibility, including manager of the Personal Systems Group in Belgium & Luxemburg. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Mons.