What is cloud tiering?

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Cloud tiering is a data management strategy for optimizing the latency time and costs of retaining often used and backup data in the cloud.

With cloud tiering, teams can configure storage to data sources based on how different data is used. Organizations taking advantage of cloud tiering use more than one performance level of internally defined or cloud provider-defined storage buckets—typically hot and cold—in a single solution to protect and move data from onsite (a private or hybrid cloud) to off-site (a public or multicloud environment) to meet business requirements.

For example, data an organization needs to access most often and quickly will reside in a more expensive, “hot bucket” cloud tier. Conversely, data needed less often and not as urgently can be safeguarded in a less costly “cold bucket” cloud tier.

How does cloud tiering work?

Organizations are creating and saving more data than ever. Much of this is unstructured data—emails, videos, images, and more. The challenge with so much data in circulation? Where to save it? Cloud tiering can help.

An organization can tier data in a private or public cloud for storage and retrieval based on business activities or to boost cyber resilience. Cloud tiering generally consists of two or three types of buckets:

  • Hot — The hot bucket in cloud tiering is reserved for data that is most likely to be needed immediately by the organization for operations. This data is the most expensive to store because of the low-latency performance needed to retrieve it when it is needed.
  • Warm or cool — Somewhere between a hot and cold bucket is the warm or cool bucket. This is the cloud tier for data that is needed less often than regularly and more often than almost never.
  • Cold — The cold bucket in cloud tiering is used for data that is not likely to be used immediately for business operations but rather is required to be saved for compliance or record-keeping purposes. Immutable backups are typically stored in cold buckets in the case of a cyberattack and the need for ransomware recovery. This data is less expensive to house because of the high-latency performance retrieval associated with this tier.

With this in mind, organizations can begin to establish their cloud tiering strategies, which include these key steps:

  1. Data classification — Organizations need to identify, organize, and tag data based on its use now and expected use in the future so people and systems tiering the data in the cloud can do so efficiently.
  2. Cloud data migration — Once data is assigned a placement, the IT organization typically manages the migration of it to the appropriate cloud tier bucket. This step includes verifying the data has migrated from onsite to offsite, and or between public cloud tiers.
  3. Process automation and access — Once the first sets of data are appropriately tiered in the cloud, an organization can begin to automate the process in preparation for future batches and operations, such as regular backups that may include immutable snapshots. Moreover, teams should establish a way to engage with data in the cloud tier, should it be needed quickly, for example, for disaster recovery.

What are the benefits of cloud tiering?

With the rise of digital business, and subsequently data volumes, cloud tiering benefits organizations in several ways, including the following:

  • Balances costs — Organizations can save data more cost-efficiently by using different cloud tiers, depending on their needs for data access.
  • Optimizes data availability and user experience — Ransomware is on the rise, yet organizations do not want to negatively impact performance and user experience by storing all backup and production data together. Cloud tiering allows teams to separate stored data based on usage needs.
  • Streamlines compliance ­and governance — Rules for what data needs to be kept and for how long vary worldwide, by government, and by industry. Cloud tiering helps organizations meet requirements without incurring additional operational headaches and costs.
  • Speeds ransomware recovery — With cloud tiering, organizations can store archives, backups, snapshots, and other data to recover it as needed to counter cyberattacks.
  • Avoids vendor lock-in — Cloud tiering introduces flexibility into IT environments and purchasing decisions by allowing teams to separate stored data into cloud infrastructure hosted by a variety of vendors including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and a host of sovereign or industry clouds.

Cohesity and cloud tiering

In today’s demanding business environment, the management of rapidly growing data can be difficult, with unstructured data presenting unique challenges. Data—both information that is likely to and unlikely to be used again quickly—in regulated industries such as finance and healthcare is subject to long-term retention and archival rules. All organizations are keeping data longer for operational, insight, and governance purposes as well as to boost their cyber resilience posture should they experience a ransomware attack. With data now proliferating across infrastructure silos—onsite as well as in public, private, hybrid, and multicloud—and IT resources stretched, organizations are looking to optimize data management and storage costs while accelerating operational efficiency.

Cohesity SmartFiles overcomes data management challenges in support of a cloud-tiering strategy for archiving, retention, security, compliance, and more. The modern services solution simplifies long-term, unstructured data retention for cold and active archives with a software-defined, data-centric, multicloud, unified file and object repository. Cohesity SmartFiles is one platform for modernizing and simplifying data and application management, privacy, and control, consolidating archival data from application workloads. Organizations use the solution to efficiently manage data at scale, comply with regulations, and streamline governance. Policy-based controls direct automatic data placement on the most appropriate or financially advantageous cloud tiers. Cohesity SmartFiles dramatically cuts costs and management overhead. Moreover, Cohesity Marketplace apps and partnerships such as with Splunk with support for warm and cold buckets, ease operations while allowing teams to optimize storage performance and costs.

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