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Thin Provisioning: The Power of Policies

Breathe new life into your old hardware by extending your storage with Caringo Swarm. Avoid adding on to or replacing your NetApp and Windows File Servers.

FileFly Thin Provision
FileFly Thin Provision

As we close out this series of blogs on thin provisioning and protecting your primary storage, I wanted to explain more about the importance and power of flexible policies while also taking a quick look at the cost savings possible by thin provisioning and protecting your primary storage with Caringo.

The Power of Policies in FileFly
Most thin provisioning solutions provide very limited flexibility on how and when data is tiered from primary storage to secondary. Generally, this means that you are often forced into a “one case must fit all” situation whereby all data on primary storage (or LUN) is treated the same no matter if that is the most cost-effective or best solution. Filefly, in contrast, allows you to create policies that are both extremely flexible and feature rich.

Let’s say, for example, on your primary storage you have a large mix of data including databases, database logs and dumps, user home directories and application data. Of course, you never want your active databases to be tiered, but you would generally like database logs and dumps to be tiered as soon as possible. For home directories you are likely happy for your users Microsoft Word and Excel type files to remain on primary storage for a limited period of time after the user last accessed them. However, if the user is storing larger files such as the likes of ISO images and mp4s, you want these to be tiered off of primary storage to free up that space in fairly rapid fashion.

This is the power of policies in FileFly. First, you may set as many active policies as you like; then, each of the policies can be configured to treat different types of data in different ways. For example, with FileFly you could have a policy to tier database logs and dumps soon after they are created, a policy that tiers ISOs and mp4 files every 4 hours, a policy running at 10 p.m. tiering end-user data that has not been accessed for 14 days, and another running at 1am that tiers application data if it has not been accessed for 30 days. Lastly, at 4 a.m. a protection policy to then create a backup of remaining file data on primary storage that has changed since the previous protection copy was made.

Another powerful and somewhat unique feature of FileFly is that it allows you to treat files that have previously been tiered to secondary storage and then brought back to primary storage differently than data that has never been tiered from primary storage. This is important to ensure you are getting the best usage and value of primary storage. Why? Simply put, when a file is brought back from primary storage it is likely that it will only be active for a very short time, maybe only a few minutes. For example, I may pull back an Excel file I created a few months ago to check one calculation, but then never look at the Excel file again. As a storage admin, I then want to re-tier that Excel data file back to secondary storage ASAP. I don’t want to pay for that data to reside on primary storage for another 14 or 30 days. In fact, I may want a policy running that tiers such data back that same evening.

Cost Savings
So, how does this thin provisioning and use of policies improve your bottom line? Using the Gartner report on the cost of storage, we ran the calculations. By avoiding addition or replacement of traditional NetApp and Windows File Servers and extending your storage with Caringo Swarm on standard hardware, you can reduce your storage TCO 75%. Remarkable when you realize that you are also getting better data protection and breathing new life into your old hardware by freeing up space. When you free up that space, it also dramatically improves the performance of that hardware (your mileage will vary of course).

Learn More
Have questions? Contact us or register for our upcoming Thin Provisioning & Protecting Primary Storage webinar.

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Glen Olsen
Glen Olsen

About The Author

With over 2 decades of experience, Caringo Product Manager Glen Olsen has a keen focus on architecting data and storage solutions. At Caringo, Glen leads efforts to bridge the gap between traditional storage and our leading-edge scale-out storage solution.

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