Definition of Auto-Tiering

Auto-tiering is a storage management technique used in data storage systems that automatically moves data between different types of storage media based on its performance requirements and usage patterns. This process ensures that frequently accessed, or hot data, is stored on faster-performing storage devices, while rarely accessed, or cold data, is stored on slower, less expensive devices. By doing so, auto-tiering optimizes storage performance and cost-efficiency.


The phonetics of the keyword “Auto-Tiering” would be:Aw-toh Tee-er-ing

Key Takeaways

  1. Auto-tiering optimizes storage performance and cost-efficiency by automatically moving data between different storage tiers based on its usage patterns.
  2. It improves access times for frequently used data, while storing infrequently accessed data on lower-cost, slower storage devices, reducing overall storage costs.
  3. Auto-tiering can be used in various storage systems, including block, file, and object storage, and is available in different configurations such as policy-based, cache-based, and self-learning.

Importance of Auto-Tiering

Auto-tiering is an important technology term because it refers to an efficient data storage management strategy that dynamically allocates data across different tiers of storage devices based on their performance and capacity.

By automatically optimizing storage resources, auto-tiering ensures that frequently accessed data can be stored on high-performance storage tiers, such as SSDs, while less-critical or infrequently accessed data is placed on lower-cost, higher-capacity storage tiers.

This approach has a significant impact on the overall system performance, data accessibility, and cost-efficiency.

Furthermore, auto-tiering eliminates manual data movement, streamlines storage administration tasks, and adapts to changes in access patterns in real-time, providing a flexible and efficient solution for modern data storage management.


Auto-tiering is a purpose-driven technology implemented within data storage systems to optimize storage resources’ utilization and efficiency. The primary purpose of this technology is the automatic allocation and movement of data between different types or levels of storage media based on the data’s frequency of use and importance.

Auto-tiering enables organizations to strike a balance between cost, performance, and accessibility, ensuring that high-priority data is readily available on high-performance storage tiers, whereas less critical or infrequently accessed data is relegated to more cost-effective storage options. Auto-tiering is used primarily for saving both time and cost by leveraging various types of storage media such as solid-state drives (SSDs), hard disk drives (HDDs), or cloud-based storage solutions.

Each of these storage types offers varying levels of performance, capacity, and cost, necessitating an intelligent system to allocate data effectively. By dynamically managing data movement across storage tiers, auto-tiering reduces manual intervention and optimizes storage infrastructure to meet ever-changing business demands.

Consequently, this technology allows companies to maximize their investments in storage systems without sacrificing performance, thus catering to diverse and time-sensitive data needs.

Examples of Auto-Tiering

Auto-tiering is a storage technology that intelligently manages and moves data among various tiers of storage devices based on the data’s performance requirements and usage patterns. Here are three real-world examples of auto-tiering:

Dell EMC’s Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST): Dell EMC’s FAST technology automatically classifies and relocates data between high-performing Solid State Drives (SSDs) and slower, larger-capacity Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) within a storage array. This intelligent data relocation enhances performance for frequently accessed data by placing it on SSDs, while less frequently accessed data is shifted to HDDs, maximizing efficiency and storage utilization.

IBM Easy Tier: IBM Easy Tier is an auto-tiering feature built into the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller and the IBM Storwize family of storage systems. Easy Tier optimizes storage by analyzing and identifying frequently accessed data, then relocates it to a higher-performance tier. The technology can automatically migrate high-demand workloads to high-speed SSDs and archive rarely accessed data to slower, larger drives for better storage optimization.

NetApp’s ONTAP Data Management Software: NetApp’s ONTAP data management software supports automated data tiering across multiple storage systems, including those using Flash, HDD, and cloud storage. ONTAP’s FabricPool feature can automatically manipulate data placement according to data usage patterns and administrator-defined policies. Frequently accessed data is kept on high-performance storage, while cold or rarely touched data is moved to low-cost storage tiers, optimizing both storage costs and system performance.

Auto-Tiering FAQ

1. What is Auto-Tiering?

Auto-Tiering is a storage management technique used in data storage systems to automatically move data between high-performance and low-cost storage media based on the usage and performance requirements. This helps in optimizing performance, reducing costs, and providing a better return on investment for storage resources.

2. How does Auto-Tiering work?

Auto-Tiering analyzes the data access patterns and identifies frequently accessed (hot) data and infrequently accessed (cold) data. It then moves the hot data to the high-performance storage tiers, while cold data is moved to lower-cost storage tiers. This process is usually automated and continually adjusts data placement, as access patterns change over time.

3. What are the benefits of Auto-Tiering?

Auto-Tiering offers several benefits, including improved performance, reduced costs, better storage utilization, and simplified storage management. By tiering data based on access patterns, organizations can ensure that high-performance storage resources are dedicated to the most critical data, enabling better overall system performance and reducing the need for manual storage allocation decisions.

4. Is Auto-Tiering suitable for all types of data?

Auto-Tiering is best suited for organizations with diverse data sets and varying access patterns. It may not be as beneficial for those with a relatively small amount of data or uniform data access patterns. However, even in such scenarios, Auto-Tiering could help better utilize storage resources and improve overall efficiency.

5. How does Auto-Tiering affect backup and recovery?

Auto-Tiering does not directly affect backup and recovery processes, as it primarily focuses on optimizing performance and storage utilization. However, by organizing data more effectively, Auto-Tiering could potentially help improve backup and recovery performance, as high-priority data is more likely to be stored on faster storage tiers.

6. Do all storage systems support Auto-Tiering?

Not all storage systems support Auto-Tiering, and the specific features and capabilities vary depending on the storage vendor and technology. However, Auto-Tiering is increasingly becoming a standard feature in modern storage solutions due to its numerous benefits in managing data effectively and efficiently.

Related Technology Terms

  • Storage Pooling
  • Data Migration
  • Input/Output Performance
  • Tiered Storage
  • Quality of Service (QoS)

Sources for More Information

  • TechTarget –
  • StorageNewsletter –
  • SNIA –
  • Dell Technologies –

About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents