Nearline Storage Corrals Costs

New products tap older gear for savings.

By focusing on maximum resource utilization, instead of acquisition of new systems, IT managers can keep their companies storage appetites in check during lean budget periods and beyond. This was a message heard more than once at the recent Storage World Conference in Los Angeles.

Arrays of inexpensive ATA-based hard drive arrays are powering superior nearline storage systems, in which companies migrate old but vital documents and files to storage thats available on demand but accessed from somewhat slower storage systems. This in turn frees up space on high-availability systems for data that must be accessed 24-by-7.

The evolution of ATA systems during the past couple of years has made migration of nonessential data something of a cost imperative for IT managers.

Of course, categorizing and moving data to nearline storage is not a trivial undertaking. eWEEK Labs recommends that IT managers investigate storage resource management software to locate stale files and hierarchical storage management solutions to migrate data from expensive arrays to less expensive storage receptacles such as optical libraries and ATA RAIDs.

One interesting tool weve seen recently is Princeton Softech Inc.s Active Archive, available now through resellers, which brings data migration capabilities to applications and databases that dont work with most available solutions.

Active Archives approach is important because high- performance databases and enterprise-class applications that rely on them, such as PeopleSoft Inc.s flagship product, must often reside on the most reliable, most expensive storage available to the IT staff.

As time goes on, these databases and applications will continue to grow. The common response to storage growth is acquisition of another expensive storage array. However, tools such as Active Archive enable IT managers to cull older data from the database and place it in nearline storage.

Access to nearline data is not fast, but the cost of ATA RAID units is a fraction of the cost of Fibre Channel and even SCSI RAIDs, so IT managers can save money with little impact on end users.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at