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Chaos to calm: Your data growth story

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Cathi Allen
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Do you wake up in a cold sweat worrying about out-of-control data growth consuming all your expensive storage? Are you afraid to look at alerts on your phone? Is your team spread just too thin to manage your data growth sprawl? Even if you had the budget to get more primary storage, could you? At a reasonable price and in a reasonable time frame?

This situation isn’t too different from when you take a break and look through the photo gallery on your phone—and you realize that it’s crazy. There are way too many pictures, some of which you haven’t looked at in years, or you don’t know what, where, when, and who they are. You also know that your phone storage is limited, which is grinding your apps to a halt. So, it gets you to thinking, “Do I really need to keep these pictures on my phone? Is there a better way?” Hmm…

Data growth chaos is a reality

If you face these scenarios, you’re not alone. Data growth is exploding, with no slowdown in sight. It can create and is creating infrastructure management chaos.

According to IDC, unstructured data is forecast to exceed 175ZB by 2025, with a growth rate of 530% from 2018. It’s near impossible to wrap our collective minds around the amount of data that is being generated. It’s a balancing act of “How much data do I need to keep?” with “How much data can I afford to keep?”

This unstructured data (meaning text, files, images, music, notes, articles, and so on) now makes up 80% of all data. And on top of that statistic, studies show that 80% of that data hasn’t been accessed in over a year (making it cold data). But this cold data remains on expensive storage, taking up management cycles and consuming a high-performance storage footprint.  

So, what’s the answer? You can’t delete the data, because you might need it for compliance, audits, recovery, and so on. You can’t spin it off to tape in some remote mountain archive, because your users will demand seamless access if they ever do need that data. You can’t buy more storage to fit it all in, because you don’t have an unlimited budget. So, just exactly how do you balance storage utilization, user access to cold data if needed, and a limited budget? How can you control the chaos?

The industry’s answer is storage tiering.

NetApp’s answer is Cloud Tiering

With NetApp® Cloud Tiering, powered by FabricPool technology, your data is available whenever you or your users need it—as you simultaneously simplify your ITOps and optimize your storage costs.

Tier cold data seamlessly and automatically

With the policy-based tiering in Cloud Tiering, you can tier cold data to lower-cost object-based storage on either a public or a private cloud. You’re no longer constrained by premium storage capacity that fits on your data center floor. Even better, your tiered storage capacity is limitless. By tiering your cold data to object-based storage, you extend your local high-performance storage capacity by 50% to 80%, depending on your tiering strategy and priorities. You can also customize your overall cold tiering strategy to meet your company’s policies, your performance requirements, and even your budget. And with no change in applications or workflows, Cloud Tiering enables you to support more workloads with your existing capacity resources.

All within Cloud Tiering, you can set your tiering policies and thresholds, configure your destination storage environment, and recapture your primary storage. It’s just that simple. When you need to make a change, increase tiering, or adjust your thresholds, you can do it with minimal effort. You just set it and forget it; Cloud Tiering takes care of the rest.

Reduce staff strain with streamlined operations

ITOps teams often are stretched to their breaking point. Where tiering is concerned, NetApp Cloud Tiering reduces that strain. With the simple, intuitive UI, you can easily set your tiering policies and thresholds, configure your destination storage environment, and recapture your primary storage—all in minutes.

In just a few clicks, you can make changes, adjust your thresholds, or run a report. You simply set it and forget it; Cloud Tiering takes care of the rest. Your tiering policies run with no manual intervention required. So, your team no longer needs to manually discover cold data, tier it, and guess at the efficiency and savings. Your team can focus on operational aspects that really drive your business, as opposed to finding ways to shoehorn more data into less space. And as a side benefit, you realize a much smaller on-premises primary storage footprint. Management of that storage therefore requires less effort, and your team works more efficiently and effectively in managing that storage footprint.

With Cloud Tiering policy-based automation, cluster reports in the dashboard reveal any additional cold data that should be tiered. You can recapture more primary storage for extra savings, taking the guesswork out of your tiering strategy. Gone are the days of manually evaluating your primary storage, volume by volume, to determine what could be tiered; manually setting up the destination object storage; and moving the data yourself. The reduced workload and less stress will thrill your team and help them concentrate on advancing your business objectives.

Keep delivering good user experiences as you move toward hybrid multicloud

But do these Cloud Tiering features affect your users’ access to the data that they need? Not at all. One of the key features, and an important differentiator, of Cloud Tiering is that your data stays within the same namespace. Applications and workloads see no difference in how they access data, hot or cold, on primary or secondary storage. And there’s no need for application and workload reengineering, reconfiguring, or rearchitecting; the workflow stays intact. Also, because users access data the same way that they always have, you don’t have to implement a data retrieval process for your users to request the data that they need.

As a bonus, if your company hasn’t yet dipped its toe or plunged into the hybrid multicloud world, Cloud Tiering is an easy, safe, and structured first step.

Save, save, save

With NetApp Cloud Tiering, you can reduce your primary storage footprint significantly by tiering data that is infrequently accessed or age to lower cost object storage, thus lowering your overall data landscape costs. You can recapture upwards of 80% of your existing high-performance storage footprint, depending on your policies. Cloud Tiering unifies management of all your NetApp ONTAP® tiering instances, within your NetApp Cloud Manager console. It’s easy to manage your existing FabricPool setup and licenses that are tied to your NetApp AFF and FAS systems, including tiering to NetApp StorageGRID® object-based storage. Cloud Tiering continually analyzes and reports on the savings from your tiering instances, real-time and historical, across your entire data landscape. And for better business planning and cost optimization, it also projects savings from your nontiered volumes. You just sit back and watch your savings grow.

An added economic value comes from the Cloud Manager Digital Wallet. You can float your Cloud Tiering licenses’ capacity and your old FabricPool licenses, which used to live and die tied to a single AFF or FAS system, across multiple clusters seamlessly. This flexibility reduces resource waste and extends your license investment.

Realize the calm: Your new data management story

Imagine that you had a super-intelligent smartphone that organized your pictures into albums and moved them to the cloud automatically even as you previewed the thumbnails on your phone. And imagine that you never had to use more than a minimum amount of storage, even if you were a camera hound. Voilà, you would have moved from chaos to calm, seeing your life’s story through pictures without needing to buy a mega-smartphone.

You can do the same thing with your IT infrastructure. Use NetApp Cloud Tiering for your data management process, tiering off aged and infrequently accessed data from your primary storage to much cheaper on-premises and/or cloud-based object storage. Your data stays within a single namespace for simplicity, as you remove the chaos and stress of unstructured storage management. Recapturing your expensive high-performance storage capacity means more coin in your budget. Your users can access all your data easily, regardless of where it resides, without bothering you to go fetch it from a remote mountain cave

Moving from chaos to calm should be simple, be stress-free… and always save you money. And that move is all those things when it’s delivered by NetApp, the cloud storage specialists.

Take the next step to stop the chaos and to embrace the calm. Learn more about NetApp Cloud Tiering.

Cathi Allen

Cathi Allen is a long-time technologist. She started as a programmer and moved on to systems engineer, network and virtualization administrator, product management, and product marketing. Cathi has three master’s degrees: MSM – Information Systems Security, MBA – Project Management, MBA – Information Technology Management. Her thirty (30) plus years in the IT industry affords her the status of subject matter expert. She is currently the product marketing manager for Cloud Data Services at NetApp. She enjoys traveling, antiquing, movies, off-roading, camping, and hanging with her four-legged children.

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