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Data Storage Woes: Data is Getting Older (and Older)

By Jeffrey Layton
January 24, 2011

Data storage issue become more challenging as the amount of data keeps expanding. This article offers two tools that can provide useful information about your data.

Introduction

The one universal cry from users is, "I need more space." I think everyone who has been a user, an administrator, or even a CIO controlling a storage budget, has heard this cry and perhaps uttered it themselves. The user requesting extra space promises their administrator that they either compressed, erased, stored, archived, or otherwise been miserly with their storage allocation. For the most part they aren't intentionally being misleading but they truly need the space to continue their work. Otherwise their work can come to a grinding halt (not a good thing). This constant need for space has led to the fundamental theorem of storage

"Data will always expand to fill the space allotted"

Data storage management and growth are key issues facing the IT world and like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand, people are ignoring the issue by not planning. A key part of planning is understanding how the current data is being used. For example, is the data being accessed (used) on a regular basis? Is the data being updated or modified regularly? How often is the data accessed? How fast is the total amount of data growing? Are the files changing in size? While not providing a complete answer, answering questions such as these can help administrators understand how the data on their storage is being used. I sometimes use the phrase "data thumbprint" for information about the data on my storage.

One the key items that people discover when they start to study the data on their storage, is that the age or how often the data is used is much older than they thought (in essence the data is colder than they thought). For example, if you examined even your home system I bet you find data that is not related to the operating system or applications that is almost as old as your system and has not been accessed in quite some time. So you have "cold" data that hasn't been accessed in a long time sitting around on your expensive storage, taking up space, and it is not being used for anything (the Cousin Eddy of data). Why are you using expensive, high-performance storage for storing something that is really never used?

Read the rest at Enterprise Storage Forum.