Cars with just two forward gears use more fuel. They are inefficient, slow and unresponsive. IT departments with just two storage tiers may be equally inefficient and costly. If data, the increasing masses of data affecting all of us, is kept in just two tiers of storage then you can virtually guarantee you are paying too much to keep much of it on fast storage or waiting too long to get some of it off cheap but slow storage.

A good, cost-efficient car has four, five or six forward gears. A good, cost-efficient information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy has a similar number of storage tiers; buckets for the data. Jon Benson, executive VP and GM for StorageTek’s automated tape products, described the cost profile of StorageTek’s six buckets thus:

- Enterprise Disk - $47-67/GB
- Modular arrays - $18-26/GB
- Object-based filestore - $7-10/GB
- SATA/JBOD - $4-10/GB
- Performance tape - $2-4/GB
- Capacity tape - $1.25-2/GB

Keep low-access data in the wrong place and it could cost you ten to twenty times more than if you kept it in the right place.

Benson says StorageTek is set to make a whole series of announcements; “We will release several rich products and solutions in the market for ILM.” These will encompass the storage network and the various ILM tiers.

Storage network intelligence
JR Roedel, senior director for ILM marketing and business develpment at StorageTek, said, “We want to drive intelligence into the network.” There is speculation that StorageTek is doing network virtualisation with partners and that a storage network platform will host StorageTek applications. The appliance concept has been mentioned here. The idea is that the network provides both an access route to the various ILM buckets and a place for appliances to sit and run applications that monitor and manage the storage tiers and also host applications delivering storage services and functionality across one or more tiers.

ILM applications
In general StorageTek divide data management services into three types:-

- Data classification
- Data Management
- Data movement (bi-directional)

Against this background StorageTek is looking to introduce some application-specific ILM software; products that will migrate less accessed records to slower and lower cost media. Roedel agrees with the idea that such software has to be application-aware.

A product, possibly called Lifecycle Director, will provide DB2 archiving. There will likely be extensions to other databases over time. This, together with Application Storage Manager, Global Storage Manager and MirrorStore (replication appliance) form four key building blocks in StorageTek’s ILM structure. There will be more.

Disk arrays
StorageTek supplies SVA enterprise drive arrays together with modular and SATA arrays from Engenio. It has a small proportion of the enterprise array market but is not about to leave that space, according to Roedel; “Enterprise disk is strategic. It may not be a profit centre for us.”

The mid-level disk arrays, called the D-Series, come from Engenio. It is known that Engenio is introducing arrays with Fibre Channel switching inside them plus a fabric switch embedded for communications to the external fabric. StorageTek is very close to Engenio and sources are comfortable with the notion that StorageTek will supply these switched arrays.

Virtual tape system
StorageTek has a virtual tape product for mainframes; VSM or Virtual Storage Manager. The company is probably thinking about a Wintel virtual tape system. There is talk of a system code-named Indigo.

StorageTek has both performance-centric – fast access – and capacity-centric tapes. The need for fast access tapes is being ameliorated with the increasing use of disk caches and virtual tape systems which speed backups very much more than the fastest tape drive can.

Part two of this feature, discussing the other storage tiers, will appear on Techworld in a little while.