Don’t Shed a Tier

Tiered storage is a methodology of taking categories of data and assigning them to a tier of storage based on the required time-to-access or access frequency. But an overriding goal of tiered storage is controlling costs.  In this BlogBytes, we will review tiered storage strategies and reveal a new definition for the final tier –the Ultimate Data Protection tier (UDP).  Don’t shed any tiers – add a tier – the UDP tier for data security!

Tiered Storage – What is it?

SearchStorage discusses tiered storage stating that, “A tiered storage architecture places data in a hierarchy according to its business value. Tiers are determined by performance and cost of the media, and data is ranked by how often users access it. Generally, the most important data is served from the fastest storage media, which typically is the most expensive.”

With this in mind, a typical configuration may start with flash as the first tier, achieving high performance with other data going to lower tiers of disk, tape and cloud and long-term data stored in an archive. The overall life and flow of data can be governed by Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) procedures and policies.

The First and Second Tiers

The first, or fast tier, with solid-state and flash storage has come to be known as tier 0. As discussed by SearchStorage, “Tier 0 storage is the fastest and most expensive layer in the hierarchy and is suited for applications with little tolerance for downtime or latency. Data placed in a ‘zero tier’ often includes scale-up transactional databases for analytics, financials, healthcare and security.”

Tier 1 storage most often uses HDD and typically is reserved for data that needs fast access, such as any application linked to revenue or business operations. These tiers are typically linked to backup tiers of secondary, lower cost HDD, tape or cloud for backup.  This brings us to the final and extremely important aspect of data storage – protection.

The UDP Tier

Let’s face it, if you can access data, so can a clever hacker or vicious malware attack. Therefore, a tier of storage must be inaccessible to the system – it must be offline. As noted in a datacenterdynamics.com article by Eric Bassier, “Tape stands out in the storage world as a truly offline storage medium. In fact, tape is the best option for offline storage, as data and files stored on LTO tape aren’t connected to any network.”

If the data on tape is not connected to the system, then malware and hackers are prevented from accessing it. Bassier added, “Ultimately, tape is no longer [only] about offsite storage; it’s about offline storage. Protecting data against ransomware and other malware attacks requires offline data protection. And tape is the most effective and cost-efficient method of providing it.”

Using a tiered storage methodology within an ILM strategy can help balance data access, availability and cost control. To protect data from corruption, hackers and malware, an offline tier is needed. LTO technology is the UDP tier to guard your data. Don’t shed any tiers  – add the LTO data protection tier!