Demystifying Cloud Tiering: Why It’s the Optimal Choice for Safeguarding and Managing Cold Data Assets

Cloud storage gives us the flexibility to store all our important data. It could be used for backups, archives, or even as an extension of local file systems. In the recent years, cloud providers have started offering many different storage tiers. These storage tiers let you optimize the use of storage resources, backup data efficiently, save money, and make the best use of storage technology for each type of data.

Cloud tiering and cloud archiving allow users to move less frequently used data, also known as cold data, from an on-premises file server or Network Attached Storage (NAS) to cheaper and more reliable cloud storage services, usually object storage such as Amazon S3, Azure Blob and Google Cloud Storage. Cloud tiering is a form of data tiering. The term, ‘data tiering’ came from moving data between tiers or classes within a storage system, but it has now also come to mean tiering or archiving data from a storage system to another storage system or cloud. Cloud tiering is increasingly recognized as a necessity to manage enterprise file workloads across a hybrid cloud.

Cloud tiers are generally classified as hot or cold

Data that is frequently accessed is stored in hot tiers and is also called hot data. The storage costs will be higher, but data access will be immediate, and there will be no or low access charges for such data. In addition, there will be no minimum contract lengths for data storage. The data in cold tiers is often referred to as cold data because it is rarely accessed. Storage costs are lower, but there are minimum contract lengths. Data is generally not immediately available, and retrieval can take several hours. Obtaining data will cost significantly more.

Cloud storage has hidden charges

Cloud computing offers inexpensive storage. Nonetheless, there are hidden charges. It is common for cloud providers to charge for both the storage and retrieval of data, as well as egress fees if the data must leave the cloud. Cloud retrieval fees usually appear as API calls to “get” and “put” data into or out of the cloud. Egress fees are based on data read from outside the cloud.

In cloud tiering, cold data is stored economically

Most enterprises have not accessed up to 80% of their actual data in more than a year. With cold data tiering, the on-premises storage array needs to keep only hot data and the latest logs and snapshots. The capacity of the storage array, mirrored/replicated storage array and backup storage can be dramatically reduced by tiering the cold data, as well as older log files and snapshots. The result is increased recovery speeds and lower recovery costs.

It is possible to reduce backup footprint, backup license costs, and backup storage costs by continuously tiering off unused cold data that isn’t being accessed. Imagine the amount of money you would save by storing around 80% of your data in a cloud tier, which consists of infrequently accessed data such as snapshots, logs, backups, and cold data!

Smooth experience for the end user

Cloud computing is increasingly being used by enterprises for core file workloads. Migrating file data to the cloud can take months and create disruption since file data can be very large, with billions of files. A simple solution to this problem is to move files to the cloud gradually, without changing the end user experience. With cloud tiering and cloud archiving, cold data can be allocated to a cheaper cloud storage tier, while it remains accessible from the original location. Using this approach, users can extend on-premises capacity into the cloud transparently.

In addition, cloud tiering makes applications cloud ready without the need to re-platform them. While applications can continue to play a role as they do now, they can also benefit from the scale and cost-efficiency of the cloud for a large part of their storage requirements. Customers can take advantage of this as an intermediary step in embracing the cloud faster, whilst long-term re-platforming activities are conducted behind the scenes.

With cloud tiering and archiving, you can reduce costs, get to the cloud faster, and leverage existing investments with zero disruption.

Prior to tiering, understand your data

The cloud tiering strategy you choose will not only affect the short, medium, and long-term cost savings of migrating unstructured data to the cloud, it will also determine what overall benefits your organization is able to realize from your cloud data migration strategy.

We are increasing the volume of unstructured data in the cloud tier as we store more cold data. Along with the growth of unstructured data comes the unfortunate truth that it’s hard to control and secure. Therefore, cold data should be studied prior to making any intelligent cloud tiering decisions to identify compliance risks, business sensitive data, or data with competitive advantages.

With Data Dynamics’ Unified Unstructured Data Management Platform, enterprise customers can manage their data quickly and efficiently. Data Dynamic’s Insight AnalytiX detects and tags unstructured data containing sensitive information, providing data custodians with information on how to manage that data while maintaining privacy and compliance standards. It evaluates your unstructured data for personal data, protected health information (PHI), and business-sensitive data to determine exposure to risk. Data that reveals personal information or business-critical information needs to be backed up more carefully than general data. The enterprise can minimize the risk associated with such sensitive information by identifying and processing it before moving it to the cloud tiering platform.

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