Public Clouds Provide Storage Tiers – Why Doesn’t Storage Software Support it?

Public cloud providers all have at least three tiers of storage to offer their customers. They often offer a high-performance tier for cloud native applications, a tier designed for active but not as performance sensitive, unstructured data sets and a cold tier for infrequently accessed data. Customers typically count on cloud migration, cloud backup and cloud file systems to move data to the cloud but most of these solutions can only target one tier and can’t move data between tiers, leaving customers paying extra for cloud resources.

Understanding Cloud Data Lifecycles

Data in the cloud is very similar to data in the data center. It tends to be very active for a few weeks following creation. After the first few weeks, if data is accessed at all, it is typically only used for reference. After a year or two, the data becomes entirely dormant and may never be accessed again. However, because there is no guarantee of non-access, the organization maintains a copy of the data for years if not decades. Regulations may even require the organization to maintain the data for longer that the organization needs it.

The tiers of storage that cloud services provide match the data lifecycle almost perfectly. Most software solutions that offer to help customers move data to the cloud don’t provide the ability to move data between these various tiers to match its lifecycle. The problem is that without the ability to easily move data through these different tiers, the organization can’t take advantage of the dramatic price differences of each of them.

Managing Cloud Data Lifecycle

Managing cloud data and placing it on the right tier brings down the cost of cloud storage. However, managing data in the cloud and making sure it is on the right tier, is more critical than on-premises. Most cloud providers charge different data egress fees for each tier and in general, the less expensive the tier, the more expensive the egress fee. As a result, it is critical to make sure the right data is on the right tier at just the right time. Prematurely placing data on the wrong tier could wipe out any savings the organization realized when moving the data to the less expensive tier.

The reason that most cloud software solutions don’t manage multiple tiers is they are too narrow in their focus. For example, migration utilities’ only concern is to move data from on-premises to the cloud, not to manage that data once there. Even cloud backup and archive solutions, processes that should understand tiering, don’t typically automatically support multiple cloud tiers.

Organizations need a more holistic approach to not just cloud data management but data management in general which includes both on-premises and cloud-based data. In our on demand webinar, “Why Cloud Migrations Fail – Learn the Keys to Cloud Success”, Storage Switzerland and SoftNAS introduce the concept of a Cloud Data Fabric (CDF) which enables organizations to move data to the cloud and then intelligently move data between cloud tiers based on policies and access patterns. The CDF enables organizations to migrate seamlessly to the cloud and then optimize the use of cloud resources. Register now to watch the on demand webcast – By attending you’ll also get a copy of our latest eBook “More Than Migration: Developing a Holistic Cloud Strategy”.

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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