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Automated Storage Tiering – A robust storage automation solution for NAS storage

Automated Storage Tiering – A robust storage automation solution for NAS storage

Storage solutions such as NAS storage have evolved over the years to be more than a simple file servers or backup targets. NAS storage is now one of the critical components in any IT infrastructure. This is why it is also widely used in many data centers. With the evolution of technology, its capabilities and features need to match up to the expectations of its users. One of the features that many NAS vendors are now offering is automated storage tiering.

This article aims to shed some light on this feature. And also tell you why it should be used in every data center.

What is Automated Storage Tiering?

If you’re unfamiliar with automated storage tiering, it’s when the system performs its monitoring on the fly and migrates data between different types of storage media to optimize performance. Automated storage tiering leverages software within the storage device and the NAS server to move hot data from high-speed SSD drives or flash memory (or a combination of both) into slower hard disk drives for long-term archival or offline backup, or even tape for long term archive retention.

It’s all about getting the best performance available on an as-needed basis without sacrificing long-term data integrity or availability.

This technology is ideal for any small business or enterprise looking for advanced storage capabilities without shelling out thousands of dollars for additional hardware.

How does Automated Storage Tiering Work?

Storage tiering was first introduced in the enterprise storage world by vendors like StoneFly and EMC. In the start, only the best NAS systems that were the top of the line had this feature.

The idea is to leverage both flash and disk-based storage to get the best of both worlds. This means fast access to frequently accessed data and a low-cost, high capacity for infrequently accessed data without having to decommission your existing storage infrastructure. Storage tiering solutions usually have four main components:

1) A software agent monitors data access patterns and makes intelligent decisions on when to move data between tiers. It can also optimize data placement within each tier.

2) A storage “plumbing” layer transports the data between tiers.

3) An array or appliance with a specially designed hardware tiering controller that offloads the transport and movement of blocks of data from existing controllers.

4) A user interface that allows you to carve up the available capacity into multiple tiers, monitor performance, and change settings to adjust how your data is moved around.

Why Should you Use Automated Storage Tiering with your NAS Storage?

There are several reasons why you should consider implementing tiered storage with your NAS solution in your organization. Some of them are pretty obvious. But the most pronounced benefits are”

Cost management:  Tiered storage is cost-effective. It ensures that only relevant information is stored on high-performance disk drives, which have a higher cost per gigabyte than lower-tier drives.

Easy information retrieval:  It is easier to locate the data you need when stored in a tiered system because it has been placed based on its usage frequency. You can thus filter out relevant data.

Bottom Line

Tiered storage refers to how specific data can be stored in a particular location. That is also suitable for that type of data’s needs (i.e., hot, warm, and cold). For example, video files stored by end-users are most likely going to be accessed more frequently than document files. Thus, video files can be stored on faster storage devices such as solid-state drives. And document files can be stored on slower but larger-capacity hard disk drives.

This allows companies to save money by using cheaper storage resources like hard disk drives. And at the same time also still providing fast access times to users who require it. Automated storage tiering allows you to configure your storage array. This way, so that different data types will get automatically moved into different tiers with minimal user intervention required.


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