Tuesday, 29 March 2016 16:49

There's still a place for tiered storage: Oracle


Despite storage vendors' apparent focus on all-flash arrays, multiple tiers of storage still have a role to play according to Oracle.

Flash storage has seen rapid growth for good reason, Oracle storage product manager Sam Voukenas (pictured) told iTWire.

While flash is becoming cheaper, "application SLA is king" and either all-flash or flash-plus-disk arrays can be the more cost-effective way of achieving the required performance. And for highest performance, data can be held in DRAM.

Furthermore, the combination of flash and disk allows the consolidation of multiple workloads with differing requirements onto a single array.

There's also resurgent interest in archiving, he said, due to the desire to preserve data exactly as it was originally written, but at an affordable cost. "Tape plays a key role" in managing such 'long data,' he added.

Legal requirements may mean data relating to business transactions must be kept for several years, but data from clinical trials must be kept for the life of the subjects - which can be decades.

By keeping metadata in flash storage, data can be rapidly retrieved from tape when required, Voukenas explained. This approach helps achieve fast ingestion of data along with quick retrieval.

The current version of Oracle StorageTek Hierarchical Storage Manager supports Oracle's cloud archive storage (priced at an 'industry leading' 0.1c per gigabyte per month for 20PB) as well as tape, which "gives our customers more choice" - archive as a service "makes a lot of sense for some customers," he added.

Even when data is archived to the cloud, the associated metadata can be kept in on-premises flash storage for rapid retrieval, just as with local tape archives.

At present there is no provision for subsequently moving the metadata to the cloud in the event of a decision to process archived data in the cloud, but "it's absolutely a possibility" at some future time, Voukenas said.

Similarly, the fully integrated and automated Oracle Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance can archive to tape or cloud storage, as well as dramatically improving backup performance. He said 12-hour backups could be reduced to 20 minutes using the appliance. The 'incremental forever' backup strategy gives a series of virtual full backups within the appliance, with restore times improved by "orders of magnitude" as only the data that is actually required (which could be as little as one transaction) is actually restored.

Customers' biggest problem is knowing that their databases are being backed up properly and are restorable, said Oracle ANZ sales consulting director Therese Jones, adding that Oracle's co-engineering approach to hardware and software development makes a big difference.

After all, who could do a better job than Oracle when it comes to backing up Oracle databases, asked Voukenas. Co-engineering means Oracle "stands out from the crowd" in this and other respects, he said.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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