Storage Tiers Explained

The Storage Tiers….

I tend to ask business’ when they get in contact if they know the tier there after, Most of the time they have this pause like ‘Huh’. Its not uncommon to not know about the different tiers as over time they have been merged into maybe 3 but there are 5.

The 3 most commonly asked for without asking are Tier-0/1 – Tier 2/3 and Tier 4. I have explained the 5 in detail below but for the visual people who don’t want to read I have created a simple image that can help explain them for you.

The Tiers

Tier 0: Extremely time sensitive, high value, volatile information needs to be captured, analyzed and presented at the highest possible speed. The primary example is or would be your scratch disk for footage in your NLE like DaVinci Resolve or Adobe Premiere Pro, Another would be currency trading but that is not a common case.

Storage solution: The usual solution is SSD and NVME drives, Thunderbolt arrays also fit into Tier 0 for single user scenario.

Tier 1: Data that requires fast, 100% accurate writes and reads either to support your team or meet the requirements of high-speed applications. One common example is multi user collaboration on an Application.

Storage solution: Generally latest-generation, high-speed disk systems are used. 12GB/s 15K SAS drives would be the recommendation here but 12GB/s 10K SAS for smaller team would work well. However, even as disks become faster, solid state storage prices are decreasing and availability is increasing. As this trend continues solid state “drives” will find their way into the Tier 1 systems of increasing numbers of organizations. Mellanox QDR and FDR interconnects what would be recommended.

Tier 2: This tier supports many major business’ and we find most don’t think of storage is tiers as explain, Tier 1 and 2 usually get merged. It must securely store the majority of active business data, where subsecond response is not a requirement but reasonably fast response still is needed. While users can tolerate slightly slower response times that is required for transactional systems, they are quickly frustrated by consistently slow response.

Storage solution: Tier 2 technology is always a balance between cost and performance. Dell R730XD offers large storage volumes and good-enough performance for Tier 2 at a very low price. 10GBe would be the minimum I would recommend in 2017.

Tier 3: As data ages, reads drop off rapidly. However, that data often is still used for various business needs. For instance, financial data needs to be kept accessible at least until the end of the fiscal/tax year. However, it does not need to stay on more expensive Tier 1 and Tier 2 systems. Similarly emails more than a couple of weeks old are seldom accessed, but the business may still find it desirable to keep them on easily accessible systems.

Storage solution:  Tier 3 technologies can have two different characteristics. Much of the data in Tier 3 is really semi-active. A simple NAS is a good choice for that data.

Tier 4: Tier 4 will contain very large amounts of data, but on the other hand no one expects this data to be instantly available. This could be anything from emails to footage or project files. This is a backup of your entire business, There are plenty of people who have been caught out by not having a backup I won’t bore you.

Storage solution: In 2017 the cheapest in our opinion would be Amazon’s Glacier or Backblaze B2. On one hand you pay a monthly fee on the other to have a redundancy set up to be able to have your vast amount of data safe would cost you just as much if you multiplied the cost by 5 years.

Hope I explained them correctly in your business needs.

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