Growing volumes of data and shrinking IT budgets are nightmares that dog the heels of the IT Administrator. So, how does an IT admin reconcile this conflict? Several online backup service providers have come up with an interesting offer that may resolve the dilemma! Organizations can now subscribe for a two-tier storage option that allows them to backup mission-critical data on one tier and not so critical information on a second tier.

Of course, this implies that IT administrators need to do a bit of homework before they can avail of this offer and optimize on storage. They need to separate data at the point of generation into mission-critical and non-mission critical information and create backup sets of data, keeping in mind the category of data that is being transmitted online for storage. Thereafter, mission-critical data backup sets should be configured for storage in the first-tier and non-mission critical data back up sets should be transmitted for storage intier-two of the online backup server.

It follows that as client data volumes grow, they can create distinct data retention rules for different kinds of data. Files that are unchanging over a period of time can be moved to tier-two stores or archived as historical data for data analysis and mining. Time stamps can be used to automatically transfer sets of backed up information from one tier to another automatically.

The tier-two storage option offered by online backup service providers is cheaper than tier-one stores. Since mission-critical data is “Mission Critical” online backup service providers offer the best of the breed options to their clients on tier-one stores. The storage options are more streamlined and restoration of data in the event of disaster is faster.

Tier-two stores of data come with customizable storage options and settings and are priced reasonably to enable customers retain non-mission critical data for longer periods of time. The sustainability of storage over long periods of time also facilitates compliance with various legal requirements. The additional snapshot feature is beneficial as it allows customers to take snapshots of their data and store the snapshots in the tier-two store without incurring heavy costs. It has been noted that several organizations are taking advantage of the offer to store a snapshot of their financial database at the end of the year in tier-two storage.

The single tier storage option is fading out. The economics of storage will soon make it extinct. The two-tier storage option makes it entirely possible to make distinctions between types of data and create stores of data that can be managed via a DS client using retention rules that are specific to the type of data being stored and administered in the online repository.

Many online backup service providers are also exploring the possibility of offering their customers a third-tier. This tier is known as a “green tier” and is intended to allow customers to park their data online on a carbon friendly storage. However, details of this offer is yet in the womb of time and it is expected that the gestation period is necessary to create a storage option that will be beneficial to organizations and reduce the carbon footprints around the world substantially.

Not all online backup companies have set up a two-tier storage option for their customers. The few that have jumped into the bandwagon have the advantage of having a unique selling proposition and very little competition. While they are in an advantageous situation, they are also hard pressed to sell the concept; provide best of the breed services and also attract the attention of customers who have or are considering online backup services as a storage option for their data.

However, it must be acknowledged that organizations are so diverse that their storage needs cannot be addressed by a single solution provider or product. The market will continue to support a range of products that will include enterprise wide needs or specialist niches with options to customize stores to match the needs of the subscriber to the service. However, the 2-tier and 3-tier storage concepts that are emerging will have a significant role to play in shaping the online backup services industry.