Classification tools help storage managers gain efficiency and find stored files faster
One size fits all used to be the standard approach to enterprise storage, with that one size being expensive, high-performance disk arrays. Now agency managers have storage choices that allow them to mix and match storage platforms by sacrificing some performance for lower costs.
But how do storage managers decide which data to store on which platform? New products that perform data classification can help managers sort through and understand what they have. That knowledge can help them boost the efficiency of their storage practices, assign data to the most cost-effective storage platform and meet legal requirements.
A variety of vendors now offers classification products, including start-ups and storage industry veterans, and the products they offer are equally diverse. Data classification sometimes is a feature embedded in a broader storage offering. Some products automatically classify files, and others prompt users to supply a label. A number of companies deliver software with classification capabilities and others bundle classification software with hardware.
The cost of data classification products can run into six figures. However, industry executives say data classification offers a compelling return on investment. They expect it to catch on in a year or two, given the growing volume of data in most organizations.
“This is still a relatively nascent marketplace,” said Todd Oseth, chairman and chief executive officer of storage consultant SANZ.
Some companies include data classification technology in a broader suite of storage management software.
Compellent, for example, has been offering data classification since 2005 as part of its storage-area network solution.Compellent’s data classification feature was one of the biggest factors behind its selection by the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General, said John Loy, network engineer in the attorney general’s office.
Sorting things out
The Compellent SAN automatically classifies data based on how often it is accessed. Frequently accessed documents and images move to fast storage while seldom-used documents migrate to Serial Advanced Technology Attachment storage.
“I don’t have to spend all my time on a server managing what files are going to be progressed up and down the scheme,” Loy said. “We have a very small staff. Having a system that automatically does [data classification] on the block level, behind the scenes, was a major reason we picked it.”
Because of Compellent’s ability to classify blocks — blocks are the units of storage that SANs use — a large database file can be stored across more than one tier of storage. The newly written data blocks may be assigned to faster primary storage while the old data is stored on more affordable disks, company officials said.To Continue Reading: Click Here