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Data tiering but never disappearing

working in attic

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Lisa Hines
Lisa Hines

Making a New Year’s resolution and determined to keep it, I decided it was time to organize the attic space at my home. After several hours of work, I had grouped and classified everything. I found sentimental treasures and numerous items that were just too good to dispose of. Items that were more likely to be used in the immediate future were boxed and stacked at the front of the attic. Items that had real or perceived value but were less likely to be accessed were assembled in the back of the attic in less prime real estate. You might be asking: What does home organizing have to do with data?

Understanding data organization

According to IDC, the healthcare data compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will reach 36% by 2025, which is 6% faster than manufacturing, 10% faster than financial services, and 11% faster than media and entertainment. Although the volume of assets in my attic are certainly not growing at the same rate as health care data, the cleaning exercise did remind me of an important data lifecycle management concept that can enable your organization to keep data assets available while saving money.

Healthcare organizations have significant amounts of stored data that’s rarely used. This cold data is often kept on the same storage media as the frequently accessed data—that is, hot data. Ideally, the hot data is running on the fastest storage for best performance. But does the cold data really require that same performance? If no one is accessing the data, then response time is certainly not an issue.

What is intelligent tiering?

Intelligent tiering is a concept that frees up expensive local storage for hot data growth by intelligently classifying data as “cold” if it isn’t accessed—and automatically routing that data to low-cost object storage on premises or in the cloud. The applications using the data are unaware that the data is tiered, so no application changes are required. This movement of data into separate storage media, depending on how often the data is accessed, is a best practice in data lifecycle management.

The same concept of tiering data from your on-premises storage can also be applied in the cloud. Cold data from more-expensive cloud storage can be tiered to lower-cost object storage within the cloud provider. I hope by now you understand the attic cleaning analogy: My attic is your data center. It’s a simple housekeeping exercise, only software does the work for you.

Whether it’s long-lived data dictated by retention policies and regulations, medical research artifacts, document repositories, or disaster recovery environments, healthcare organizations are increasingly tiering to object storage to reduce data storage costs. Many organizations start their hybrid cloud journey by tiering to the public cloud, whereas others prefer to tier to a lower-cost on-premises object target.

Next step

NetApp® ONTAP® FabricPool technology, the NetApp StorageGRID® object-based storage solution, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, and NetApp Cloud Tiering give you the flexibility to choose a tiering strategy that best fits your organizational needs. To learn more about keeping your data always visible and fully accessible while optimizing your storage and saving an average of 70%, visit or subscribe to NetApp TV and access our industry-leading video content.

Lisa Hines

Lisa Hines is a healthcare CIO on NetApp’s Global Healthcare and Life Sciences Team. Her 25 years of real-world experience in the industry allows her to deliver strategic insights and strategic planning for customers and partners.

Throughout her career, she has led numerous early adopter projects in the healthcare provider space and has participated in statewide collaborative efforts to improve access to high-quality health care, while effectively managing the cost of providing care.

She is an active HIMSS member and has held numerous board positions in her local chapter. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys lake life, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding.

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