Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Tiers Without Tears

Tiered storage, the art of assigning data to progressively cheaper devices based on its age or relevance to an organization, is getting the hype treatment deluxe these days. But the actualities of tiered storage are proving to be a challenge for even the most seasoned IT pros. That said, those who can successfully put tiered plans in place are apt to ensure their employment longevity.

There's clearly a demand for tiered storage architectures. Companies are inundated with unprecedented levels of data, much of which requires special handling. And while the cost of disk is dropping, the hardware, software, and support surrounding disk solutions are not. Hence, it only makes sense to start ensuring that data isn't just organized, but that it's organized in ways that make the most efficient use of resources.

"All of us are ... looking at how we retain and categorize documents and decide how long they live. Everybody has to look as some tiered storage," says Bob Mason, CTO of Spanish-language newspaper firm ImpreMedia and former director of publishing systems at The Dallas Morning News. (See Dallas Morning News.)

The problems come with implementation. Storage pros need to answer lots of questions up front: Just how will data be organized? Is it sufficient to use metadata parameters, like the date of last access, to set up an automated policy? Can an automated policy be used at all? How many tiers should be set up? What kind of storage will be used for each tier?

The key element in getting started is knowing what data you have and what you want to do with it. Potential court documents, for instance, must be stored with clear timestamps and "chain of custody" records. (See Storage Goes to Law School and Lawyers Urge Doc Management.) For compliance, the information the government wants must be relegated to storage that's easily accessible. (See Top Tips for Compliance .)

  • 1