Complexity is Killing Secondary Storage

Most organizations only use their secondary storage infrastructure as protection storage. In some cases, this is because the secondary storage hardware only supports the backup use case. Even if the organization selects more flexible secondary storage hardware, it still primarily uses that hardware only to store backup data. The complexity of adding additional software and hardware discourages the use of the secondary storage tier for other use cases. As a result, the organization uses primary storage for most of its secondary use cases, which drastically increases overall storage costs.

The reality is that the same storage IT uses to store backup data is also suitable for storing archives, rich media, scratch data, user file data, and IoT device-generated data. The right secondary storage platform can even empower Dev/Test and analytics. If IT can use secondary storage to its full potential, it can decrease the cost of the primary storage tier, which because of the move to all-flash arrays, is also increasing exponentially in cost.

To reduce the overall cost of the storage infrastructure, IT needs the ability to move as much data as possible from the flash-based primary storage infrastructure to a hybrid or hard disk-based secondary storage infrastructure. The goal is to grow the premium-priced, all-flash based primary tier as slowly as possible. The problem is many current solutions are not providing IT professionals with that ability.

The Secondary Storage Infrastructure Challenge

The first challenge is finding storage software and hardware that can span these use cases. The software needs to provide native multi-protocol access, built-in data reduction, and seamless scale-out capabilities. In most cases, the solutions only focus on one of the potential secondary storage use cases. For example, there might be a storage system that stores backup data, a separate inexpensive NAS for user home directories, and a scale-out system for infrequently accessed data in an archive. Each of these become a silo, and therefore, infrastructure challenge.

Making matters worse, workloads that should be on secondary storage, like user file shares, Dev/Test, media serving, and some analytics workloads, remain on production storage because the secondary tier can’t offer the performance or features that these workloads require. The inability to move these workloads to the secondary storage tier further drives up the cost of the overall storage infrastructure.

Another limiting factor in secondary storage is the difficulty in finding software to move data to that tier. The problem is that each secondary use case often requires a unique software solution and a server to run that software. This leads to complexity as the organization can end up with four or five different data management applications, all running on separate servers.

The complexity leads most organizations to a simplistic secondary storage infrastructure that only supports the use cases that absolutely must be on secondary storage, i.e., backup. All the other potential secondary storage use cases remain in-place, on expensive primary storage. In this situation, secondary storage does nothing to reduce overall storage costs.

Introducing Cohesity SmartFiles

Cohesity developed its DataPlatform to help organizations solve this secondary storage dilemma. It creates a secondary storage tier that supports all the use cases while driving down the overall cost of storage. Organizations often find Cohesity as they are looking to refresh their data protection architectures. Cohesity’s DataPlatform is a data management platform that not only stores backup data, files, and objects, but also runs a variety of file and data protection applications on-board. The DataPlatform supports NFS, SMB, and S3 simultaneously and can replace network-attached storage (NAS) for primary file-server use cases. It also provides improved storage utilization through deduplication, compression, and small file capacity optimization.

SmartFiles expands the Cohesity use case beyond data protection and file and object storage. It supports a suite of integrated applications that enable organizations to reduce primary storage footprint and overall storage costs while also increasing data intelligence.

SmartFiles enables an organization to transparently tier data from on-premises NAS/File-servers to the Cohesity DataPlatform or the cloud. Moving data off the NAS storage system means organizations can reduce their storage requirements from 70-90 percent. Files that the solution moves are transparently accessible by users thanks to the use of link files. The solution also provides a “Google-like” search, which enables users to search for files both within the data center and across sites.

Organizations can take advantage of the Cohesity Marketplace to implement apps for anti-virus, file audit, and anomalous access detection.

StorageSwiss Take

Most data protection storage solutions don’t enable the organization to expand its use case beyond just storing protected data. If an organization wants to support other secondary storage use cases, they are forced to buy separate hardware and software solutions. As a result, most organizations never do more with secondary storage than store backups.

Cohesity offers a compelling data management platform with data protection and support for traditional file and object access via SMB, NFS, and S3. The addition of SmartFiles enables the intelligent use of the platform and supports a wide variety of secondary storage use cases all from within the same platform. The customer can start by solving their immediate pain-point, data protection, and then evolve to complete secondary storage strategy without adding complexity.

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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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