How your data’s “temperature” should determine the best storage option

The exponential increase in unstructured data is one of many reasons for the upsurge in demand for cost-effective cold storage products, services and media.

Jeff Rowe | Nov 08, 2017 03:21 pm

How hot is your data?

To the average non-IT type, that question might seem somewhat bizarre, with a rather peculiar array of possible answers.  To IT managers, however, it can lie at the core of the factors to be weighed when considering the most effective data storage configuration. 

According to IT consultant Marc Staimer, the idea of so-called cold storage – meaning storage for data that likely has no immediate or even near-term use for an organization but needs to be kept around nonetheless – has recently taken on importance.

For one thing, he says, IT managers are staring at “mind-boggling” exponential growth in the amount of data that will need to be stored in the future. So determining how best to store it is only going to become more important.

Other factors include regulatory compliance, as “new standards and regulations that require data-related compliance are on the rise,” as well as the fact that nearly 80 percent of all new data is going to be unstructured, meaning determining its importance – whether it’s hot, cool or cold, so to speak – is only going to increase.

Unfortunately, says Staimer, “cold and cool data accounts for the vast amount of data consuming primary storage. It consumes 75 percent to 90 percent of data center storage.”

On the plus side, however, there are a few new storage options on the market that can help IT managers, including new “skinny object storage – Traditional object storage comes with unlimited scalability and is historically used for inexpensive, large capacity active archives. The slimmed-down version, with fewer storage server nodes, has been used for cold data storage.” – new quad-level cell flash systems that are due to come online by the first half of 2018.

The bottom line is that data goes into cold storage when it's infrequently or never accessed. While this type of storage generally costs much less than primary and secondary storage and demands correspondingly lower performance, determining the best way to maintain the data can factor significantly into an organization’s overall data storage strategy.