The Lifecycle of Mainframe Data Storage: Part 1

February 20, 2024

Part I. Tiered Storage and the Data Lifecycle

Welcome to this three-part blog series, where we embark on a journey to unravel the intricate relationship between mainframe enterprise data storage and the broader data lifecycle. In this digital era, understanding the dynamics of data management is pivotal for organizations seeking optimal efficiency and cost-effectiveness. In the first segment, we delve into the role of mainframe data storage within the comprehensive data lifecycle, exploring its evolution from creation to destruction. The second part sheds light on the strategic implementation of tiered storage, demonstrating how this approach can effectively address the ever-growing challenge of data storage costs. Finally, our third installment unveils the most cost-effective solution for archiving data over the long term using CA 1™ Flexible Storage™, combining the synergy of cold storage and tape backups. Join us as we navigate the complexities of enterprise mainframe data storage and unveil practical strategies for an economical data management approach.

data storage lifecycle

The Data Storage Lifecycle

As data traverses the various stages of its lifecycle, including creation, storage, usage, sharing, archiving, and destruction, its relevance evolves and becomes increasingly less valuable over time for enterprises. Managing this data effectively is imperative for organizations to uphold security and compliance standards. Implementing access controls on a need-to-know basis ensures that sensitive information is only accessible to authorized personnel, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches. Protection measures against loss and theft are integral components of safeguarding valuable data assets. Moreover, adhering to retention periods is essential to meet regulatory and reporting requirements, as well as align with a company’s data retention policies. By orchestrating a comprehensive approach to data lifecycle management, enterprises can harness the full potential of their data while safeguarding its integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

Tiered Storage

Tiered storage, also known as storage tiering, is a data management strategy that involves categorizing and storing data in different tiers based on its value, performance requirements, and access patterns. This approach allows organizations to optimize storage resources and costs, while ensuring that data is readily available when needed. Tiered storage is closely related to the data lifecycle, which encompasses the stages of data creation, storage, retrieval, and eventual deletion.

Here's how tiered storage relates to the data lifecycle:

  1. Data Creation: Data is generated continuously through various processes within an organization. Not all data is equally important or frequently accessed. Tiered storage begins by classifying data at the point of creation or ingestion.
  2. Data Storage: After data is created, it is stored in different storage tiers based on its characteristics. Typically, there are three primary storage tiers:
    1. Hot Tier: The hot tier includes high-performance storage devices, such as SSDs (Solid State Drives) or in-memory storage. It is used for data that requires frequent access and low latency, such as current transactions, real-time analytics, or critical application data.
    2. Warm Tier: The warm tier consists of storage that is moderately performant and can include traditional HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) or lower-cost SSDs. It houses data that is accessed less frequently, but still needs to be readily available for business operations or reporting.
    3. Cold Tier: The cold tier is used for long-term archival or backup storage. It typically uses the most cost-effective storage options, such as tape drives or cloud storage. Cold tier data is rarely accessed and is kept mainly for compliance or disaster recovery purposes.
  3. Data Retrieval: When data is needed, the storage system intelligently retrieves it from the appropriate tier based on access patterns and requirements. Hot data is readily available with minimal latency, while accessing data in the warm or cold tier may take longer.
  4. Data Lifecycle Management: Over time, some of the data can become less valuable or relevant. An organization’s data lifecycle policies dictate when data should be moved from one tier to another or when it should be deleted entirely. This ensures that storage resources are optimized and costs are controlled. 

Storage Administrators play a crucial role in managing tiered storage and the challenges associated with it. Here are the critical ways that Storage Administrators manage data:

  1. Data Classification: Storage Administrators must work with data owners and users to properly classify data. This involves understanding data usage patterns, business requirements, and compliance regulations to determine which tier is suitable for each type of data.
  2. Performance Monitoring: Storage Administrators should continuously monitor storage performance to ensure that data in the hot and warm tiers meets performance expectations. This might involve load balancing and adjusting storage configurations.
  3. Data Migration: As data ages or usage patterns change, Storage Administrators are responsible for migrating data between tiers. Automated tools and policies can help streamline this process, ensuring that data remains accessible while optimizing storage costs.
  4. Security and Compliance: Storage Administrators must ensure that data in all tiers is adequately secured and meets regulatory compliance requirements. This usually involves encryption, access controls, and regular audits.
  5. Capacity Planning: Storage Administrators need to forecast storage growth and plan for additional capacity in all tiers to accommodate data expansion over time.
  6. Cost Management: Storage Administrators are responsible for controlling storage costs by selecting cost-effective storage solutions for each tier and optimizing resource allocation.

In summary, tiered storage is a data management strategy that aligns with the data lifecycle to optimize storage resources and meet performance, availability, and cost objectives. Storage Administrators play a critical role in implementing and maintaining tiered storage systems while managing the challenges associated with data classification, performance, security, compliance, capacity, and cost.

Stay tuned for part 2 in this blog series, “Object Storage: The Evolution and Simplification of Tiered Enterprise Storage."

Learn more about how you can include CA 1 Flexible Storage as part of your Mainframe Data Storage strategy.