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It’s almost taken for granted that “new” storage tiering regimens require tier-zero SSDs, but does that add up to a better way to tier storage or a better way to sell more storage?

When I learned IBM was sponsoring a tweetchat the other day, featuring the smart storage guys at Wikibon, I had to crash the party. I suspected there would be a lot of shilling for IBM products (there wasn’t) and for flash solid-state drive (SSD) devices (there was), but I wanted to hear the latest value case being advanced to justify the technology. (You can read the tweets in chronological order

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Half joking, I asked what the industry was calling “storage tiering” this week, given the propensity for drift in the meaning of technical terms. It caused me some consternation when a panelist asked, “What do you think it means?”

I offered that traditional tiering involved the movement of data between different media based on the data’s re-reference rate and the cost of the media. It was strictly a storage allocation play as opposed to archive, which involves a much more granular understanding of data and its business context, and aims at storage utilization efficiency. One panelist agreed and offered that tiering was “matching data and device characteristics to minimize costs and maximize performance.” Another said, “Metrics that decide tiering [are] performance, availability, shareability, cost to purchase, cost to maintain and service.” That sounded like what IBM was saying at mainframer school years ago: so far, so good.

This was first published in September 2012

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