Blog80% of Your Data is on the Wrong Tier, Just Sayin…


Although the use of storage tiers is not new, it has been a challenge for companies to organize their data effectively over time between disk, cloud, object storage and tape tiers. Well that’s now changed with Spectra StorCycle, which automatically tiers data to the more cost-effective storage medium.

StorCycle works by first scanning primary storage data. Once it finds inactive files it automatically migrates them to what is known as a secure Perpetual Tier. The Perpetual Tier is any combination of cloud storage, object storage disk, network-attached storage (NAS) or tape. With inactive data moved to the Perpetual Tier, the primary storage tier holds the most critical data and is now small enough to have super-fast backups and file recoveries, but also is more cost-effectively to put your primary data on all flash storage.

Side Question: Why would you still copy data to tape? Answer: Tape is faster than disk for full backup restores once it reaches its full speed and tape libraries actually have an advantage in performance when doing large full system recoveries as are common in disaster recovery scenarios. Combined with the cost advantage of tiering data, you can now cost-effectively leverage all flash storage for the backup’s initial ingestion point, with tape serving as an economical secondary storage tier for long term storage, making the total backup architecture significantly faster and more secure for both backups and full system recoveries.

Now, just to be clear, all backup vendors use disk for backup targets because the first backup should primarily be used for single file or folder-level restores, but not necessarily for entire system restores.

StorCycle was developed for extremely fast “scan” performance. It has this fast scanning ability because scan data is first collected in server memory and then written to the StorCycle database. It is written to the database in batches and uses hundreds of parallel processor threads to optimize write performance. Once a scan is complete, StorCycle has user-selectable options that determine how data is accessed in the future. One method is to replace the file with a HTML Link file in place of the file, which users click on to restore the source file. Another method might be to keep a copy of the source data on primary storage and place another copy on a secondary location(s), in effect using StorCycle as a backup solution!

StorCycle can be implemented as standalone software using public cloud storage or existing network-attached storage, or sent to a “cheap and deep” storage object storage like the Spectra Black Pearl Converged Storage System. Combined with StorCycle, you can now set up and customize a complete storage system that moves data as a completely as an automated process.

Organizations should take advantage of StorCycle and the reality that not all data requires instant recovery by designing the backup architecture accordingly. Primary data should ideally reside on an all-flash tier along with using an all-flash backup target to facilitate 95% of file recoveries. Combine this with the natural air-gapped nature of tape, you now have a complete data protection and disaster recovery solution that protects against all types of disasters including ransomware cyber-attacks.

About the Author

Mark Teter, Corporate Technologist

Mark Teter, Corporate Technologist

In his role, Mark is responsible for the strategic direction of ASG’s emerging technology offerings and advancing the deployment of present-day hybrid cloud solutions for our customers. Mark has served as Faculty Staff Member at Colorado State University and has written over 50 white papers on subjects including Data Center Ethernet, Linux and Open Source, Storage Area Networks and Computer Virtualization. He published Paradigm Shift in 2006, a book on emerging technologies. He is a Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect.