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No More Tiers
Assureon, Redefining What Archive Means


Before and After

Traditional Storage Infrastructure and ManagementCompanies are faced with a wave of complexity in trying to make sense of tiered storage: complex storage infrastructures storage management and regulatory compliance requirements. Imagine a single box solution that could consolidate storage tiers, guarantee data protection, simplify storage management and lower storage costs. There’s no need to imagine any more as Nexsan Assureon Secure Disk Archive delivers uncompromised value with primary storage performance and cost-efficient management of your most infrequently accessed files. Assureon redefines what archive means.

The complexities of the traditional storage infrastructure along with its management and cost combine to make an unforgiving challenge for IT. How chaotic can all of this complexity be? Administrators must be able to budget for massive storage capacity growth and plan for multiple layers of infrastructure overflowing with:

What if all this chaos of complexity could be replaced with a single, small solution that dramatically simplifies the infrastructure, automates management and improves data security while significantly driving down your storage costs?

The Nexsan Assureon Secure Disk Archive redefines what archive means. With the most innovative thinking in an archive, Assureon leverages a new approach to storage consolidation and automated management that changes how an entire storage infrastructure can be deployed and managed. By combining speeds rivaling primary storage performance with the ability to manage infrequently accessed files on “deep sleep”, cost-efficient drives, Assureon is the picture of uncompromised value.

The unstructured data explosion in recent years has pushed the management and cost challenges to the limit in many organizations, demanding a new approach to cost effective management of unstructured data. Assureon is the antithesis of complexity, cost and risk as it can eliminate up to 66 percent of the traditional hardware and software infrastructure while ensuring the file you save is the file you will retrieve regardless of time.

It is estimated that the operating expense for each layer of storage infrastructure is five times the initial purchase cost. Assureon delivers compounded cost savings by eliminating five or more layers while improving data security with a series of innovations that guarantee the privacy, longevity and integrity of your data.

The Assureon disk archive provides a single, easy-to-use solution that enables storage administrators to manage their entire protection architecture with a single, small solution: 1 box, 1 interface, 1 price. With Assureon data is safer, management is simpler and costs are dramatically reduced.

Capturing doesn’t sound like much of a challenge. However, decisions long before data arrives are made to classify and manage data based on its performance requirements and perceived value. Typical classication categories include mission critical, business critical, accessible online and others.

Following Data Through the Traditional InfrastructureThe Tiered Storage Problem

The complex flow of information within the data center begins with its capture, after which the challenge is storing, managing and protecting. Each is complex. IBM reported that studies have shown over 70 percent of IT operations spending goes to maintaining and managing existing systems instead of developing new and innovative applications. It is therefore no surprise that 77 percent of IT managers have reported their top operational priority was improving IT efficiency.

Not all information is created equal, and the value of some information changes with time. Judgments must be made around classification, protection, retention/ compliance of data, so it is properly managed as it flows through multiple tiers within the protection architecture. The effort is complex, resource intensive and time consuming.

Storage administrators often adopt a monolithic approach to managing when a flexible, hierarchical approach is required. Some storage administrators simply hide the complexity of effective management behind vast amounts of capacity, rationalizing that it is an easier management task to keep shoving data into large and expanding containers than it is to clean it up.

Following Data Through the Traditional Infrastructure

The broadly accepted storage management architecture adopted for many years has two major components: the first is a place to capture and manage active data; the second is the protection architecture.

Capturing doesn’t sound like much of a challenge. However, decisions long before data arrives are made to classify and manage data based on its performance requirements and perceived value. Typical classification categories include mission critical, business critical, accessible online and others.

Each classication layer has a direct relationship to performance, protection and recovery objectives, relaxing as you move down.

Step 1—Data is rst captured on primary storage where it can be served to users and applications
Step 2—Mission critical data is protected by synchronously replicating to Tier- 1 disk, creating a second instantaneous copy
Step 3—Mission critical and business critical data with short recovery time objectives will be moved offsite asynchronously to create a third copy
Step 4—For long-term protection, a backup server and Tier-2 disk are added to make backup copies of the data
Step 5—Data deduplication is a common practice at this point to reduce the total number of data objects held, so yet another copy is made
Step 6—For last-ditch recovery, and geographic portability of data, that deduplicated data is now copied to tape
Step 7—Because of management practices starting with a full backup, followed by incremental backups of data that have changed since the last backup, a backup routine referred to as Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) is established. With GFS, over the course of a year, data is typically replicated 25 times
Step 8—New and ever-emerging legal governance regulations require the immutability of data, controlling who has access to it and reporting who has viewed it. To meet that need, storage administrators will implement a Write Once Read Multiple (WORM) device
Step 9—Another copy is born by storing it on optical devices
Step 10—For long-term access to data, administrators will move data to its nal long-term “active data” resting place on an archive managed Tier-2 disk
Step 11—Finally, the archive has to be backed up, so it goes to disk and then to tape, resulting in even more copies

Over the course of a year, for each terabyte captured, there are at least ve copies on hard disk, additional copies on optical disk and between 25 and 50 copies on tape; 25 copies if the data didn’t go to an archive and 50 if it did. For each additional copy that IT has to manage and maintain, the cost and complexity compounds exponentially.

No More TiersNo More Tiers

In the context of all this complexity, it seems hard to imagine a single disk archive so innovative that it can:

Yet, Assureon does all that and more.

By eliminating multiple layers of hardware complexity and consolidating and automating dozens of storage management applications into a single interface, Assureon provides a streamlined approach to managing data from birth til death.

Administrators get an all-in-one platform to control all critical data protection functionality while slashing two-thirds of the traditional hardware and software infrastructure and associated costs. The first question to consider is, “What layers or tiers of infrastructure and management demands can be eliminated or consolidated by Assureon?”

Figure 2 is a composite of all the steps and components that are easily eliminated. To make this simple to visualize, compare Figure 2 to Figure 3. Figure 2 illustrates what can be eliminated when the infrastructure is optimized, and Figure 3 illustrates how much less complex it can be with Assureon. Assureon sits behind primary storage, eliminating multiple storage tiers and the associated complexity. Policies are easily implemented to determine how data is managed from capture to destruction.

Data arriving in primary storage is automatically moved to Assureon, which eliminates the need for overt backup and restore operations. This feature alone is a major contributor to infrastructure simplification as it removes the need for a dedicated backup server, backup application software and the associated backup storage, whether on disk or tape.

By reducing the data set, Assureon replication and other data movement windows are shortened dramatically. Since Assureon is implemented with highly-available yet low-cost and energy efficient disk storage, the need to have the archive on optical jukeboxes or tape is also eliminated. The exclusive AutoMAID (Automatic Massive Array of Idle Disks) technology places drives into deeper and deeper levels of sleep based on usage policies while uniquely delivering sub-second response times.

In an Assureon environment, the amount of expensive primary storage required is greatly reduced. Assureon sits behind primary storage and acts as a Hierarchical Storage Manager (HSM). Assureon transparently monitors Tier-1 data for lowusage thresholds at which point a file is automatically migrated to low-cost, energy efficient disk storage. In its place, a pointer is left on primary storage so whenever a file is required, Assureon knows exactly where to retrieve it.

As noted by Figure 2 & 3, storage complexity is radically simplified. It boils down to this: Tier-1 disk acts as a front-end cache for capturing and serving information for high performance applications (e.g. databases), and Assureon is used to manage EVERYTHING else to include archive, migration, protection, availability, deduplication, regulatory compliance and cost containment. Dozens of third-party applications formerly needed for replication, backup, e-discovery, data protection and other requirements are contained in Assureon. By collapsing all your tiers and storage management into a single system and interface, Assureon is an all-in-one solution for your entire storage infrastructure. It’s that simple. It’s that safe.

Traditional storage infrastructure and management flow

Figure 1
Traditional storage infrastructure and management flow

Layers of infrastructure eliminated by Assureon

Figure 2
Layers of infrastructure eliminated by Assureon

An Entire Infrastructure in one small solution

Figure 3
An Entire Infrastructure in one small solution

  • Data Deduplication (performed in archive)
  • Backup unique offsite replication eliminates backup
  • Restore zero-recovery time architecture
  • Online archive fast WORM disks, ILM, HSM, compliance, encryption, audit trails, etc.
  • Archive Mirror local or remote replaces tape backup

Data Privacy, Integrity and Longevity

With Assureon, your data has never been in safer hands. Typical storage arrays provide some protection with RAID and replication but cannot guarantee the privacy, integrity and longevity of your data. Nor can they meet the rigors of regulatory compliance. If data protection risks within your current environment have ever kept you up at night, Assureon will ensure that you never worry about the risk of data loss or tampering again. Assureon offers a full suite of data protection:

Data Privacy, Integrity and Longevity

Conclusion

Storage administrators fight against complex storage infrastructures, juggling multiple boxes, multiple interfaces and multiple prices. Assureon eliminates all that cost and complexity with 1 box, 1 interface, 1 price. Moreover, Assureon meets all your simplicity and cost targets while dramatically lowering risk with the most secure archive available in the market today.

This level of innovation can eliminate and/or consolidate secondary and tertiary tiers into a single solution that is made possible by Assureon’s uncompromised ability to deliver primary storage performance with cost-efficient, long term retention of archived files. That is how Assureon redefines what an archive means.

Growing a storage environment with less infrastructure and management is not viewed as realistic by many companies who struggle with the complexities of their protection architecture. However, Assureon establishes a new blueprint with rule-changing technology guaranteed to reduce the complexity, cost and risk in your current environment.