If you’re working out your secondary storage problems and could use some musical inspiration, listen to Adele’s “25” album. It makes for a pretty good soundtrack.


I like to play music while I work as much as the next guy, so I started listening to “25” last month while I was working on The Secondary Storage Squeeze: How Can I See It Coming?, an e-book about getting data out of primary and into secondary arrays.

Why? First, you’re doing something right if you sell 3.38 million copies in the first week. Second, the songs highlight most of the worst things about love and many of the worst things about backup retention policies, storage strategy and business impact analysis. Finally, Adele probably didn’t have all of that in mind when she put the album together, but the connections are there.

“It feels like we're oceans apart/There is so much space between us”

People don’t want space between them and the files they’ve saved. You don’t want it, Adele doesn’t want it, and your users certainly don’t want it.

The essence of the secondary storage squeeze is that primary storage — fast, tiered disks and backup copies — is made for quick retrieval and recovery, so users want to keep everything there. That gets expensive, so sysadmins like you have to enforce policies that move it off to secondary storage devices like storage arrays and disk-to-disk backup appliances. That makes users feel as if they’re oceans apart from their files, so you’re back to people wanting to keep everything in expensive primary storage.

It’s an issue of proximity to data, or keeping the right amount of data close at hand, and then moving it farther away from the user as it ages. The most current, frequently used data needs to be as close as possible to the end user. Onsite, primary storage is ideal for that. Then, once expense overtakes proximity, you move the data to near-to-onsite storage.

But as you move it away, you also have to think about how you’ll access it. When users need the old data, how quickly can you make it available again?

“If you're gonna let me down, let me down gently/Don't pretend that you don't want me”

Of course you still want the data. Just not as urgently. Here’s an example based on payroll.

  • Payday — Accounting needs immediate access to payroll data in the days leading up to each payday and for a few days afterward.
  • End of quarter — For a few days, Accounting again needs immediate access to the data for all paychecks in the quarter so it can file reports with the IRS and prepare financial statements.
  • End of year — For a week or so in January, Accounting needs immediate access to all payroll data for the year so it can run Forms W-2, 1099 and other year-end reports.

The rest of the time, the data lies dormant for weeks and months on end. Why fill up valuable primary storage with it?

Many companies manage this by staging payroll and similarly aging data in onsite repositories, or keeping it in primary arrays. As it ages, they move it to a secondary array, so that it’s available for less-urgent processing at the quarter and year end. After that, they move it out to the cloud or an offsite repository and make it accessible only for e-discovery, long-term analytics or the like.

Part of the secondary storage squeeze lies in figuring out how to put all that back together smoothly and accurately. Every mistake you make in reporting, whether to shareholders or the IRS, costs you money.

New E-book: The Secondary Storage Squeeze

Are you just starting to manage user expectations, or are you well down the road in setting backup retention policies? Either way, you’ll find perspectives for your data protection strategy in the new e-book we’ve just published called The Secondary Storage Squeeze: How Can I See It Coming?.

It probably won’t sell 3.38 million copies in the first week, but avoid the rush and get your copy now, just in case.

 Download the e-Book>>

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