Cash for stash

To deal with such hurdles, new classification and virtualization products are emerging that allow users to get the full benefits of tiered storage deployments. Scentric sells a product called Destiny that allows users to discover, classify and move data on Windows servers and CIFS-compliant network-attached storage (NAS) appliances without the use of agents.

George Rodriguez, an IT manager at ABC Distributing, recently introduced tiered storage into his shop after using Scentric's Destiny data classification tool to help the savings from ILM materialize.

Before using Destiny, Rodriguez was constantly allocating more Tier 1 storage on his high-end IBM Shark array to deal with the data growth on his Windows servers. "I had the IBM Shark divided between mainframe and Windows but had to occasionally empty IBM Shark LCUs (logical control units) assigned to the mainframe so I could re-assign them to my Windows servers," Rodriguez says.

Using the reports Destiny produced, Rodriquez was first able to show management and users how many old files they were storing and how infrequently those files were being accessed. Rodriguez now sets policies that automate the classification, movement and retention of files on his Windows servers.

Scentric's reporting feature allowed Rodriguez to justify to his managers the purchase and introduction of another tier of storage at half the price of Tier 1 storage without increasing management overhead and costs. Rodriguez configures Destiny to keep files on Tier 1 storage for 45 days, on Tier 2 for another three months and then moves the files to another location where they are backed up and then deleted from disk. Rodriguez's says his only regret so far is, "I wish Scentric offered similar functionality for the mainframe."

Organizations are also deploying array-based block virtualization to better manage and control their tiered storage environments. Fidelity National Title Group Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., covers nearly one-third of all U.S. real estate title insurance policies and needed a system that would handle the 2.5 million transactions it processed annually. The system also had to maintain its online repository of 45 million historical documents.

To manage the data, the insurance company implemented a three-tier storage design that uses Hitachi's TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP) for Tier 1 high-performance storage requirements, which in turn virtualizes the company's Tier 2 HDS Thunder 9585V modular storage systems. This architecture enables non-disruptive migration of their data between tiers and access to data with lower-performance demands when application needs dictate.

New data classification and virtualization software and CAS appliances are helping users in all size shops start to bridge the gap between the promises and reality of tiered storage deployments. But other companies are still waiting on vendors such as CA, EMC and Symantec to integrate their software acquisitions of the last few years and deliver products that deliver enterprise-wide data classification and migration capabilities. w -With Gabrielle Wheeler and Jerome Wendt

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