Vinod Mohan

Make Room on Your NAS and File Servers
by Actively Archiving to Lower-Cost Object Storage

Policy-Based File Tiering Automates the Ongoing Process

Are you struggling with data sprawl in your NAS devices and file servers? Are you constantly running out of room and having to periodically add more filers? It’s likely that over 80% of your files are old and not frequently accessed, yet they occupy much of the space on high value equipment. Newer files soon age quickly, adding to the clutter.

No doubt you’ve tried periodic manual purges and given up. Especially when the organization may be forced to hold on to these files for many years.

Active archiving is the modern way to migrate these files off to a cheaper, secondary tier using  object storage. You can regularly free up precious space on your filers and defer expensive capacity expansion, saving costs, and IT resources.

DataCore Swarm is a massively scalable, yet economical, S3-compatible object storage system ideal for long-term data retention across your on-premises and hybrid cloud environments. Swarm can be your central archive tier to store files offloaded from various sites, all under your purview. You can protect your data within your data center under your control – security, access permissions, policy settings, your choice of hardware, etc. Archival to Swarm ensures that your data is protected against outages, hardware failures, and data loss. Swarm also has built-in support for WORM and S3 object locking that enable immutability to maintain data integrity.

Active Archive | Object Storage

In this blog, we will look at an automated means to actively archive files by offloading them to Swarm object storage. This process is called file tiering and it is super easy. Let’s now see how it works.

How File Tiering Works: Policy-Driven Automation

file tieringData tiering or storage tiering is a popular concept in the block storage world. File tiering adopts the same foundational principle for the file storage infrastructure but uses a different approach to tier data. It expands the conditions of data placement to go beyond just tracking data access temperatures (hot/warm/cold data). File tiering allows custom policies to be defined by the IT administrator that govern what files are to be migrated, from which source location to which destination, and when. For example, you can:

  • Offload files from Marketing file servers that are more than a year old to a secondary storage location
  • Migrate *.mp4 files which are larger than 500 MB and not accessed for six months to lower-cost object storage
  • Archive all the log files from a certain application to Swarm for long-term retention based on compliance regulations
  • Move data replicated for redundancy and backup on a certain NAS device to an archive tier

Using policy-driven automation, files are tiered from your NAS and file servers to object storage. The file tiering process is completely transparent to end users and applications. Once the files are moved, a stub is left behind on the original file storage location, which helps to point to the new destination. When a user accesses the file, they don’t have to know the new location where it has moved to. They can use the existing file path and the file tiering software will recall the file from the object storage media back to the primary file server for normal access.

Easily Offload Files to Secondary Storage / Active Archive

DataCore enables automated migration of files from your NAS and file servers to Swarm using an easy-to-use file tiering tool called FileFly. Just set up source and destination targets and the policies for file tiering and let FileFly automation do the rest. You will begin seeing immediate results and free up precious capacity on your primary storage. FileFly also lets you schedule the time for file migration to adjust for your peak workload times and avoid contention.

FileFly is a lightweight software that runs on Windows servers (physical or VM). It supports SMB shares on NetApp and Dell EMC Isilon NAS and Windows file servers as source locations to offload data from. The file migration process is dynamic and fully transparent. Even after the files are tiered to Swarm, continue using familiar access methods to access data without any disruption to end-users and applications.

Diagram Filefly Tiering

DataCore FileFly moves cold files from on-premises filers to object/cloud storage

  • If you have a multi-site NAS/file storage infrastructure, you can have FileFly running in each location migrating data to a central Swarm object storage repository.
  • If you are running a hybrid cloud environment with on-premises file and object storage and the cloud, you can leverage FileFly to set policies to store data on the on-premises Swarm object storage for a certain amount of time (say a year) for easier access, and then move to a cloud location for longer-term retention and archival (3+ years).

Watch this guided tour video to get an high-level overview of FileFly and quick demo of the product and its various use cases.

A Cost Saver That Will Positively Impact Your IT Budget and Business Objectives

With active archiving, you can offload data to Swarm and comfortably cut down storage costs by up to 80%.

  • No need to buy additional file servers and NAS​: Optimize your existing infrastructure to the maximum before investing in expansion
  • Significantly reduce price/TB for retaining cold data​: Leverage more economical object storage for archival of cold data
  • Eliminate disruptions and time wasted on data migrations​: Automated and transparent file migration improves operational efficiency.
  • Save on backups: The zero-KB stub files left behind on file storage inform your backup solution to skip backing them up and hence shorten backup windows and reduce backup costs

reduce storage costsBut wait, there’s more! What if you can see how much money you can save before even you decide what to archive? DataCore offers no-charge data assessments to help you identify which old, inactive files are best tucked away on Swarm.

You’ll understand what types of files (by file age, size, format, etc.) are occupying disk space, who is using them, and how fast they are accumulating. It then helps quantify the business value of offloading files from primary storage so you can estimate potential cost savings.

Contact DataCore to learn more about active archival to Swarm object storage and how you can easily achieve this using FileFly file tiering software.

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