Cloud, Data Center, Storage

Streamlining Placement of Scattered Data on File and Object Storage

Many organizations have data stored in a wide range of locations on a distributed infrastructure. There can be good reasons for this, but it can also cause chaos. Everyone wants high-throughput, low-latency access to the files they need. They want those files to be easy to find, and they want all of their grouped files in the same place, just as they’ve always been. Unfortunately, these desires often conflict with one another.

How do you decide what data goes where? And, more importantly, can you automate that data placement?

Data Placement Decisions

Performance is one reason files end up scattered across storage infrastructures. Latency is lower if files are stored near the person or application that will be using them, making for a faster user experience. Files in active use are often stored on-premises on NAS devices and file servers for this reason.

The type of storage can also make a difference. Frequently used files may be kept on all-flash storage for maximum responsiveness. However, there is no need for all of an organization’s data to be on the most responsive storage. Inactive data can be archived to public cloud storage (or less costly local object storage devices), creating cost savings without affecting the user experience.

Another reason files become spread out across multiple devices is that the value of data changes over its lifetime. A file may be worked on intensively during its creation and revision, accessed frequently for a little while after that, and then never used again. It goes from active, valuable data to being kept merely for archival purposes.

People aren’t in the habit of digitally cleaning up after themselves. They tend to simply abandon files they no longer use regularly, which often leaves inactive data taking up valuable space on the same devices as the active data. This is less than ideal, since these devices are usually more expensive, high-performing storage, which fills up quickly.

Organizations develop storage policies to deal with these variables—but it’s not as simple as it sounds.

Why Is Scattered Data a Problem?

It makes technical and financial sense for files to be distributed among several different kinds of storage. However, users and applications generally prefer that files be consolidated in one spot, so they’re easy to find. A storage policy that moves old data to the cloud, for example, can inadvertently cause frustration if, on the rare occasion that someone needs that data, it’s “missing” from where they saw it last!

Just as the pattern of use changes over the lifetime of an individual file, the way that corporate networks are structured and used can also change, sometimes rapidly. The recent shift to working from home is one example. When all of the users have literally left the building, data placement policies can quickly become outdated.

If data placement policy needs to cope with complexity and change, it needs to be automated. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy. If applications can’t find the files they need, those applications don’t work properly.

As a common example, having multiple files appear to be in a single folder while actually being spread across multiple physical devices is painstaking and difficult to accomplish. It typically requires years of time by top developers to automate the process to the point that it copes with files being added and/or removed in real time.

What Can DataCore Do About It?

DataCore vFilO assimilates existing shares across NAS devices and file servers and then consolidates them all under a single global namespace. This means that the files appear to users as if they’re in one convenient location, though they may, in fact, be distributed across many different storage devices. Behind the scenes, vFilO automatically and invisibly moves the files to wherever makes the most sense, based on the policies you set. And this is an ongoing process that dynamically happens in the background, fully transparent to the applications and users accessing the files.

These custom policies can move data based on when files were last accessed; for example, all files that haven’t been used for at least six months could be moved to low-cost storage. Or you could choose to place files in various storage tiers based on file format, file size, age, and so forth. vFilO makes moving files between file storage and object storage (on-premises and in the cloud) easier and software-controlled, relieving IT teams from the burden of manual data migration.

You can specify that files should be kept in the particular geographic location where they’re used, at a branch office, for example. This can be useful both for performance and data governance reasons. The European Union’s GDPR requires that the personal information of EU citizens be stored only in certain countries. vFilO makes compliance with this and other regulations easy.

Automated placement of data based on business objectives can improve user experience, simplify regulatory compliance, and make it easy to change policies to keep up with changing circumstances. It can also help reduce spending on storage. vFilO lets you leverage lower-cost storage alternatives and make full use of existing storage investments. Try the vFilO Savings Calculator to see how much money you can save for your organization.