What you may not know about secondary storage

 In Hardware, Storage

Secondary: coming after, less important than, or resulting from someone or something else that is primary.

It’s not a particularly exciting word, and investing in something with “secondary” in its title may seem like it’s not worth the time or money. Secondary storage, however, breaks that mold—it isn’t all it originally appears.

Secondary storage, otherwise known as tier-two storage, used to refer to the hardware. It was, in fact, less important than primary storage. The devices were often an insult to manufacturers, and only used in non-critical areas—places where data could be lost without much worry.

Today, secondary storage refers to the data. It’s what isn’t needed on-demand every day, but gets stored and tucked away in case it’s ever needed again. And the technology that holds it? It’s evolved to meet the specific needs of that data, bucking the “inferior” label that was attached to it for all those years.

You may have preconceived notions about secondary storage, but they might be based on old facts. Here’s everything you should know about the new world of secondary storage and why you should consider it.

Old functions made easy

Despite the upgrades in the world of secondary storage, it’s still “cheap and deep.” This is one of the biggest advantages secondary storage has to offer—while SSDs, flash, and hyperconverged systems are becoming increasingly popular at data centers, they are still quite expensive, and pretty inflexible. The price point makes sense for primary storage, where high-performance operations need to take place, but not so much for large-scale data implementations, where the cheaper and easier you can expand the petabytes of data you need, the better.

Luckily, secondary storage has evolved in step with data centers. It now provides stability and performance for critical applications like backup, disaster recovery, video, media, and entertainment—and it does it all in one place. Secondary storage consolidates all the traditional cheap and deep use cases—such as integrated backup software, data protection, and DevOps support—into one cohesive unit. It can provide performance in large capacities, which is perfect for massively scalable data and data lakes. Secondary storage consolidates this data while reducing the hardware footprint in the data center—which saves rack space, power, and cooling.

New functions add value

One of the reasons secondary storage has become just as worthwhile as primary is because it’s developed a new function: analytics. Accumulating data from all secondary data silos into one location allows you to mine it for insights into business performance and opportunities for improvement.

The storage can be indexed, sorted, and classified. Users can create comprehensive business intelligence reports when pairing secondary storage with a report-creation tool. If, like most organizations, you have petabytes of old primary data, you could probably benefit from analytics.

Retailers, for example, can aggregate all their inventory data—from what walks out the door, to who purchases what, to how much of each item is in stock—to reveal patterns across entire chains of stores, rather than each individual outpost. These results can mean better restocking practices, improved supply chains, and more personal connections with customers.

Similarly, a company that uses security cameras can combine all its data into one place by using secondary storage, rather than having a different area of storage for each camera. In one example, an organization used this combined security camera footage to figure out when the work yards were being flooded with people, and when they were more likely to be empty. No matter what your industry, applying analytics to your secondary storage can help you discover new patterns, become more efficient, and track large amounts of data.

Secondary, not irrelevant

Just because you don’t use it every day, doesn’t mean your secondary data is completely invaluable. Investing in equipment that specifically fits the needs of your secondary storage—high flexibility, low cost, multi-function, and able to run analytics—can add another level of efficiency to your IT infrastructure.

Don’t let outdated notions about secondary storage keep you from looking into the equipment you need. Contact your account executive today for more information.

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