Storage Tiering, Data Archiving, and Transparent Archiving – What’s the Difference?

Not too long ago Komprise published a white paper that summarizes the differences between Tiering, Data Archiving and Transparent Data Archiving. The paper also outlines the differences between data migration and data archiving, which are terms often used interchangeably, but are quite different.

With cloud data migration a top priority in the era of digital transformation, it’s never been more important to move “cold data” to a cheaper capacity storage to reduce costs. This can be done via data tiering—a process of taking cold files and tiering them to a cheaper location. But, data tiering solutions often move data off the original location so users have to change behavior and look for data in the new place. Such disruption to your end users and applications does not have to be inevitable. Transparent tiering solutions enable cold data to be tiered to cloud storage without any change to user and application access, which is key to gaining user adoption. When your users are worried about not being able to access tiered data as before, they’re less likely to allow data archiving, which reduces data storage savings.


Transparent data tiering is key to maximizing adoption and data storage cost savings

I think it’s important to emphasize this point: the ability for both your users and your enterprise applications to still access files exactly where they were before being archived—without having to rehydrate the file—is possible. That is the power of what we call Transparent Move Technology™ (TMT). With Komprise, files get archived and they still appear in the original location, so users and applications continue to access the files exactly as before. Additionally, file-level tiering ensures that the entire file is archived as an object, so it can be accessed natively in the cloud by any standard S3 tools, without having to go back to the original file system or to the data management software itself. Komprise TMT enables fully transparent archiving using file-level tiering, so users see no disruption and data is accessed without lock-in.

So how do you ask the right data tiering questions to make an educated choice, avoid surprises, and save your organization data storage, backup and cloud costs?

Data tiering, takes many forms, many of which can cause different types of disruption. Some solutions claim the ability to transparently tier, but are unable to reduce the backup footprint and make it nearly impossible to switch primary vendors, thus eroding savings and imposing vendor lock-in. Our data archiving white paper includes a table that categorizes tiering into three categories:

  1. komprise_cloud_intelligentTraditional tiering, which creates significant disruption to user access, requires manual approvals and archives only in batches, eliminating a substantial amount of cold data to be archived and cost savings to be realized.
  2. Proprietary transparent tiering via storage tiering, which is the method behind Hierarchical Storage Management, is cumbersome and includes brittle and unreliable stubs and agents. Storage vendors provide archiving with tiering software, which eliminates stubs but can impact performance and imposes vendor lock-in. It also drastically reduces the cost savings afforded by transparent archiving because it fails to reduce the backup and DR footprint.
  3. Standards-based transparent tiering is the only true transparent archiving method that eliminates all disruption and delivers maximum archiving savings. Komprise Intelligent Data Management uses a patented Transparent Move Technology that offers standards-based transparent data tiering and provides maximum data storage savings. It tiers data without disruption to users or getting in front of hot data—all without using stubs or agents or creating vendor lock-in. Learn more about transparent tiering.

Data Tiering and Archiving Choices

Key Archiving Feature Traditional Data Tiering Proprietary Transparent Tiering via Storage Tiering Standards-based Transparent Tiering
Maximizes storage & backup savings No

Manual process results in archiving.


Only 20% of savings since backup and DR footprint and license costs aren’t reduced.


Provides 100% savings since primary storage footprint is reduced as is backup and DR.

Non disruptive to users and apps No

Users must search for data in two places.


It’s transparent to users but not applications, such as backup and virus scanners.


Users and apps are not disrupted. Backup footprint is reduced; virus scanners are not impacted.

Vendor agnostic Yes

Data is lifted and shifted to any secondary storage with no connection to the primary storage. As a result, migrating to another primary storage vendor has no implications.


Migrating to primary storage of another vendor is not simple. All tiered data must be rehydrated and then migrated to the new primary storage.


You can readily migrate from one primary vendor to another without rehydrating all the archived data.

Outside hot data path



The file is fully moved.



Tiering cold blocks to slow secondary storage (e.g. cloud storage) can adversely impact performance of these arrays.


Sits behind hot data and metadata paths. Never in the hot data path.


Native access on secondary storage Yes

So long as the file was stored in a format native to the secondary storage.


The blocks and files moved are in proprietary format and can only be accessed from the primary storage device.


The full file is written in a format native to the secondary storage device.

Example solutions Project-based archiving, ad-hoc archiving or backup-based archiving. Ideal for tiering snapshots that are not usually backed up and tiering warm data. Not designed for wholesale data archiving. Komprise Intelligent Data Management

Provides both project-based and policy-based data archiving.


We often hear, “why didn’t I know about Komprise sooner?” I hope this storage tiering, data archiving, and transparent archiving overview, table, and white paper are useful resources that help you identify the right solution for your use case. Be sure to check out our Data Management Glossary of Terms to learn more about Cloud Tiering and the advantages of moving infrequently used cold data to a cheaper cloud storage tier.

Also, be sure to read the guide: Cloud Storage Tiering – Storage-Based vs. Storage Gateways vs. File Based and take the time to review Why Cloud Storage Gateways are not a good solution for File Data Migrations.


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