How to Choose the Right Tiering Solution

File tiering is new to most organizations. Given this, few people are experts in the technology. In fact, many of us are unsure of even what questions to ask. It turns out that there are several very important questions. A few features can make the difference between long-term success and a nightmare that gets worse every year.

NEVER ASSUME…

You might assume that every backup or tiering product makes a complete and correct copy of the files it touches… You can make that assumption, but you would be wrong. There are several backup products and tiering products that discard elements of your files, and even more that discard metadata.

Criteria #1: Do you care whether all of your data reaches Tier 2, or is it all right for the tiering system to throw some of it away?

THE CATALOG CONTROLS YOUR FUTURE

Five years ago you worked on that project… what was its name…? And those files, the ones that you need… you called them what, again?

The files that you tier today may or may not have stubs. But someday, for sure, they won’t. (A NAS full of stubs is still a full NAS. Best practice is no stubs, or stubs that last only a year or two after a file is tiered.)

When the stub is gone, how does an end-user find their tiered files? A good tiering system will have an end-user access portal that retains the file’s original security. This portal allows end-users to search the metadata of the archived files that they have (legitimate, secure) access to just as they can with their files that are currently online.

Once they locate what they need, then the portal allows them to download the results to their desktop.

Meanwhile, a good system will have a second portal that allows you, the system administrator, to search and find whatever you may need across all accounts.

Finally, an open (non-proprietary) catalog also means that you can run whatever reports you need to understand what’s being tiered over time and how your money is being spent.

Criteria #2: Can your end-users service themselves once there is no stub, or will they need you to do the work for them? Independent of the users, do you have what you need to do your job? Can you get what you need from Tier 2 cost-effectively?

TECHNOLOGIES COME AND GO…

You don’t want your files going with them. A good tiering solution not only has an open catalog, it has an open back-end. If the solution is discontinued in the marketplace, if its vendor fails, you will still have complete access to your files.

Criteria #3: Are you willing to bet that a proprietary solution will outlive your data?

THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE

The only thing we know for sure about the future is that it will be different from today.

What this means for tiering is that you need flexibility. Single-purpose, point-to-point, “I only move files from source X to destination Y” solutions are unlikely to survive the test of time and the cost of changing from a closed system to a different system can be enormous – more than the first system cost.

A good tiering system will accommodate multiple sources and destinations, so that you are not locked in to any one vendor’s platform technology. It will allow you to create rules that are granular in scope so that you can manage different classes of files and different communities separately.

Criteria #4: Does the system empower you, or limit you?

WHAT IF...?

Beyond simple compliance, which is regularly ignored, there can be subpoenas and legal holds, audit requirements, etc. A good Tier 2 system interfaces with the applications you may need to satisfy these requirements and others.

Criteria #5: If compliance becomes an issue, can your tiering solution do what will be required?

IN SUMMATION

Despite the five questions, there is really only one issue that matters; once your files have been tiered, will you still have the data elements and flexibility needed to solve a problem you can’t anticipate today? 

Don’t assume that every tiering solution on the market will address all of these concerns. But do understand that once you implement a tiering solution, there’s no easy way to turn back. A simple oversight today could mean catastrophe in the future. Get ahead of the game by choosing a solution that gives you the flexibility you need.

Not sure where to start? We can help.

How much will you benefit from tiering your file data?

Call or email DefendX Software today. We can help. info@defendx.com 1-800-390-6937

Topics: Tiering

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