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Cost-Efficient Storage Optimization

Storage optimization may be defined as the process of moving data to the most efficient and cost-effective storage system for that data.  Here are a few quick steps to cost effectively identify, manage, and protect your most important data.

Step 1: Identify

You can’t protect what you can’t see or identify, yet too many organizations are struggling to do precisely that with their most valuable data. Unstructured data (such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel or PDF files) accounts for an estimated 80 percent of the data that organizations retain in their storage systems. Unfortunately, it is also intermixed throughout those storage systems with structured data (databases, spreadsheets, etc.), resulting in a complex entanglement of data that is expensive to protect and nearly impossible to manage.

Nexsan Secure Data Discovery Tool is an interactive software tool that enables organizations to quickly identify their most valuable data and determine the most efficient way to store and protect it. By utilizing this free tool, organizations can begin to assess the volume and value of their file data based on the ages and types of files being stored.  Once it has identified its valuable data, an organization’s next step is to understand its key storage trends.

Step 2: Understand Data Growth and Trends

Organizations must periodically run analysis reports to reveal data trends that can impact the answers to these fundamental questions:

In addition to enabling identification of valuable data, Secure Data Discovery analysis reports also help organizations see the sheer quantity of such data they are currently storing—and how quickly it is growing. Armed with this information, organizations are far better equipped to understand what data (and how much of it) can be migrated from their costly primary storage onto a secure active data vault storage platform.

Step 3:  Offload Data

Data must be able to be easily and transparently migrated onto a cost-effective archive storage system without any disruption to ongoing operations. Nexsan Assureon™ solutions not only free up space on primary storage for use by more frequently accessed data, they also automatically protect data from the moment it is migrated onto the active data vault.

Assureon-protected data does not need to be repeatedly backed up during weekly full or daily incremental backups, dramatically reducing the size, time and cost of the backup process. Assureon combines superior data protection with instant, active access to files by transparently migrating data off the expensive primary storage with no need for custom APIs or changes to existing applications.  The files are replaced with shortcuts on the primary storage saving 85% to 96% of the space of the file that’s been moved.  Now that space can be utilized for active files without the need for expensive tier-1 expansions.

Step 4: Unlock Full ROI Potential

The value proposition of storage optimization is clear; reduce storage costs by moving less-frequently accessed data from expensive primary storage onto a more cost-effective

active data vault. Assureon takes the benefits of storage optimization to a significantly higher level by not only freeing up primary storage, but also protecting that data to the highest levels of the regulatory standards.   Assureon also delivers significant IT savings by eliminating the need for data to undergo onsite and offsite (DR) backups, encryption, deduplication, snapshots, etc.

The net result is that Assureon’s unique architecture and technology combine to deliver superior data protection while enabling dramatic improvements in storage efficiency and ROI.


Recently ZDNet reported that Microsoft’s long-awaited feature update introduced a bug which deleted user files in a way not easily recoverable. An underappreciated problem with modern computer systems is despite the layers of error detection, they remain unable to tell the user when files (or folders full of files) simply disappear. The cause can be a bug in the operating system, as in this latest Microsoft problem, or it can be a bug or unexpected behavior of any application program that has access to the folders in question. It could even be a case of a user error, which happens in about 30% of data loss cases.

One of the best ways to combat the different unexpected file volatility issues is to use an active archive storage solution. This solution actively maintains a secure inventory of your files from the time of creation of the file and periodically checks to ensure that all the files you are supposed to have are still present. Even better is a system that reports any missing or corrupted files and automatically replaces them with validated backup copies.

Nexsan Assureon does exactly this – it monitors all servers and file systems you specify, and makes a copy of any newly created files. Information about the file, called metadata, is assembled including the file name, timestamp, a cryptographic fingerprint, and the administrator defined retention rules. The file is issued a globally-unique consecutive serial number, and then stored in two separate Assureon nodes. Best practice is to position these two Assureon nodes in different geographic locations, taking advantage of the high integrity replication technology embedded in the product. The metadata is added to a cryptographically chained list, very similar to how Blockchain works. Over time, Assureon audits the serial number sequence to validate that every file is present and the contents still match the stored cryptographic fingerprint. If a file is missing or corrupted, the administrator (and Nexsan) are notified of the problem and it automatically self-heals using the other validated copy.

You can avoid the silent loss of your critical business assets due to file system volatility by implementing an Assureon active archive solution to provide short and long term protection against improper loss or corruption of data. As a bonus, Assureon also helps protect you against catastrophic data loss due to Ransomware and Safeguards your company in the face of a natural disaster. Read How to Protect from Ransomware with Assureon.

Video surveillance has advanced rapidly since CCTV was invented in 1942. However, the ongoing growth in the use of video surveillance brings with it new challenges for data storage, and as the role of CCTV grows ever more important, it is critical that it is managed and protected in the correct way.

In particular, it’s vital to consider data storage and security, ensuring it abides by local and international laws and regulations. For digital evidence, it’s important to be able to offer seamless scalability to accommodate rapid growth, along with a comprehensive suite of data security features that meet strict requirements for file integrity, privacy, chain of custody, and compliance.

Key Issues: Capacity, Retention and Chain of Custody

In terms of capacity, video and digital images are exceptionally heavy users of storage space and the guidelines around managing evidentiary data are key to it being recognized as a valid source by the criminal justice system.

Many organizations require higher-resolution video to ensure compliance with insurance providers, maximize loss recovery and strengthen criminal cases in court, for example. It is therefore essential that data is stored in a solution that is scalable and cost-effective, allowing them to add capacity as needed, since running out of storage space is not an option.

Storage solutions that incorporate policy-based rules for data retention can help police departments to significantly boost their storage efficiency by automatically keeping all surveillance videos only for their legally mandated retention period.  Similarly, a solution that can enable a digital chain of custody, including an audit trail, will help prove that any digital evidence is correct and has not been deleted or altered in any way and who accessed that information.

By implementing high quality storage solutions, the owner of the surveillance data – whether that’s local government or a business with its own CCTV – can be sure that it can be utilized as evidence. And when it comes to catching and prosecuting criminals, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The Nexsan Approach

Nexsan Assureon and Unity Assureon Archive (UAA) protect your information better than any other archive solution on the market, enabling organizations to meet regulatory demands while ensuring data does not become corrupted or worse yet, deleted before its time. If Assureon or UAA discovers lost or corrupted data during regular background maintenance sweeps, it will fix it first then let you know that a problem has been handled.

Surveillance videos require Chain of Custody and immutability tools to keep them admissible as evidence in legal proceedings.  Unlike competing solutions, Assureon guarantees the integrity of archived data through the use of file serialization, file fingerprinting, audit trails, self-auditing, and self-healing capabilities. Because the Assureon secure archive is designed to work transparently with existing applications, no APIs are needed to deliver these benefits for the physical security network.

In order to ensure optimum storage for high-value surveillance solutions should encompass:

File Integrity  – Each time a file is saved, a unique fingerprint is generated using both an MD5 and SHA1 hash of its contents and metadata, so history and contents cannot be altered after the fact (WORM storage).

Data Availability – Each file is assigned a unique serial number to ensure no files are missing or inappropriately added. Every file is checked every 90 days to make sure it’s still in the archive.

Secure Time – Tampering with the system time clock is prevented by using a global, redundant, secure time source.

File Redundancy – Each file and its fingerprint are stored twice in the Assureon. The second copy is either stored in a separate RAID disk set in the same Assureon or on a remote Assureon.

Data Verification – Files are continually verified against their fingerprints, repaired using their copies and safeguarded by RAID.

No Backups Needed  – Redundant file copies within the secure archive system eliminate the need for costly backup and restore operations quickly by utilizing shortcuts.

To find out how Nexsan can help you or request a demo, please visit:

Although the cloud does bring a wealth of business benefits, it’s important to find the right ‘cloud balance’ for your business. By this we mean a complimentary architecture that supports both cloud and on-premises hardware to provide your business with the best of both worlds. Cloud computing offers flexibility and elasticity, but it’s also important to remain vigilant and realistic by considering what data is stored where.

You may already be using the cloud effectively, but there are some who risk racking up high costs, leaving data at risk, falling short of GDPR or violating other internal or external compliance rules. As with most things, finding the perfect balance can help you utilize the cloud to its full potential.

By keeping unstructured or cold data in the cloud for long periods of time, you’re guaranteed to see your cloud spending sky rocket. Organizations pay based on capacity and as the amount of space needed increases, so does the cost. Likewise, when it comes to highly sensitive data, by keeping this on-premises you can have greater peace of mind and control. The cloud does not offer a comprehensive feature set to protect against human error, malicious attack, ransomware or software corruption – so by bringing your most secure data on-site you can add additional layers of protection.

The Assureon Cloud Transfer (ACT) is designed with this in mind, allowing you to migrate data easily between the cloud and the Assureon platform. ACT allows you to take advantage of the best features of the cloud, while offloading cold data and highly sensitive information to a secure on-premises Assureon active archive. This is far better for long-term protection and preservation. This also reduces the accumulating premium costs associated with keeping data in the public cloud, providing data portability while reducing risk of cloud vendor lock in. Because of this you can have a balanced combination, utilizing the cloud for some aspects of your business and on-prem storage for others.

Assureon also brings a wealth of security and data protection features, to give you that additional peace of mind. It implements a unique file fingerprinting and asset serialization process, combined with metadata authenticated by a private blockchain. This enables you to automate integrity audits, providing positive assurance of the completeness and authenticity of business records – to meet any compliance and industry regulations such as HIPAA, SEC17a-4, and GDPR. Assureon’s powerful suite of defenses also protect against ransomware.

We have seen the industry talk about the cloud OR on-premises, but the truth is, implementing a cloud AND an on-premise strategy brings a far greater range of benefits!

Shoeb Master, Product Manager