Even mechanical drives are advancing. The common fiber channel interface on drives is being replaced by Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interfaces. This new interface standard should offer improved performance, availability and further lower drive costs when using mechanical drives for primary storage.
A new tier of storage is a cloud storage based archive. As we discuss in our Cloud Archive White Paper, using cloud storage as a final resting point for the data set may be a natural extension to an internal disk based archive. Cloud storage is moving beyond the discussion phase and into real deployments. Cloud archive storage is the inverse of SSD. Access to this storage is slower but its capacity is near limitless. Retrieval will be much slower. Ideally the only data you put into the cloud archive is data that you don't think you will need for a long period of time. Understanding your data or having systems that do becomes critical.
The challenge to these distinct tiers or classes of storage is how to move data between them. In the past ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) and HSM (Hierarchical Storage Management) were the proposed solutions. To some extent what held back adoption of these technologies was the complexity of implementation. There was client or server side agents that needed to be developed and implemented for each of the major platforms or operating systems. Each platform had its own file system intricacies to work through and most file systems did not know how to handle data that was moved on them.
Automated tiering takes the data movement decision away from the server or client and places it closer to the storage. This removes the need to develop multiple agents to support multiple file systems and as a result should make data movement more seamless. Automated tiering however can be implemented in several methods; through file virtualization, storage virtualization, smart storage controllers or a cache-like implementation. The granularity of the movement varies between LUN, file or block level migration.
The promise of automated tiering is that it will remove one of the challenges and time consuming tasks from storage managers; data placement. For many organizations it may be the only practical way to fully leverage all the new tiers of storage. We will take a detailed look at the methods and the companies that provide them in a series of upcoming entries.
Track us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/storageswiss
Subscribe to our RSS feed.
George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.