IBM System Storage® Easy Tier

Easy Tier® is an optional, no charge feature on the DS8870. It offers capabilities such as manual volume capacity rebalance, auto performance rebalancing in both homogenous and hybrid pools, hot spot management, rank depopulation, manual volume migration, and thin provisioning support (ESE volumes only) for Easy Tier features. Easy Tier determines the appropriate tier of storage based on data access requirements and then automatically and nondisruptively moves data, at the subvolume or sub-LUN level, to the appropriate tier on the DS8000®.

Use Easy Tier to dynamically move your data to the appropriate drive tier in your system with its automatic performance monitoring algorithms. You can use this feature to increase the efficiency of your SSDs and the efficiency of all the tiers in your DS8000 system.

You can use the features of Easy Tier between three tiers of storage within your system on the DS8870 storage unit.

Easy Tier features help you to effectively manage your system health, storage performance, and storage capacity automatically. Easy Tier uses system configuration and workload analysis with warm demotion to achieve effective overall system health. Simultaneously, data promotion and auto-rebalancing address performance while cold demotion works to address capacity.

Easy Tier Server manages distributed host caching in conjunction with storage server caching and hierarchical storage management. The implementation coordinates the placement of data between the host cache, the storage server cache, and the storage tiers in the storage server, and manages consistency of the data across the set of hosts that access the data.

In automatic mode, Easy Tier data in memory is persisted to local or secondary storage, ensuring the Easy Tier configurations are available at failover, cold start, or Easy Tier restart. With Easy Tier Application, you can also choose to assign logical volumes to a specific tier. This can be useful when certain data is accessed infrequently, but needs to always be highly available. The Easy Tier Heat Map Transfer Utility replicates Easy Tier primary storage configurations to secondary storage sites, synchronizing performance characteristics across all storage systems. In the event of data recovery, storage system performance is not sacrificed.

You can also use Easy Tier in automatic mode to assist in the management of your ESE thin provisioning on fixed block (FB) volumes.

An additional feature provides the capability for you to use Easy Tier in manual mode for thin provisioning. Rank depopulation is supported on ranks with ESE volumes allocated (extent space-efficient) or auxiliary volumes.
Note: Use Easy Tier in manual mode to depopulate ranks containing TSE auxiliary volumes.
Use the capabilities of Easy Tier to support:

Easy Tier provides a performance monitoring capability, regardless of whether the Easy Tier license feature is activated. Easy Tier uses the monitoring process to determine what data to move and when to move it when using automatic mode. You can enable monitoring independently (with or without the Easy Tier license feature activated) for information about the behavior and benefits that can be expected if automatic mode were enabled.

Data from the monitoring process is included in a summary report that you can download to your Windows system. Use the IBM® System Storage DS8000 Storage Tier Advisor Tool application to view the data when you point your browser to that file.


The following conditions must be met to enable Easy Tier:
  • The Easy Tier license feature is enabled (required for both manual and automatic mode, except when monitoring is set to All Volumes).
  • For automatic mode to be active, the following conditions must be met:
    • Easy Tier automatic mode monitoring is set to either All or Auto mode.
    • For Easy Tier to manage pools, the Auto Mode Volumes must be set to either Tiered Pools or All Pools.
    • For Easy Tier Server, Easy Tier monitoring must be active. Easy Tier Server does not require Easy Tier automatic mode management.

Table 1 contains drive combinations you can use with your three-tier configuration, and with the migration of your ESE volumes.

Table 1. Drive combinations to use with three-tiers
Models Drive combinations: three tiers

SSD, SAS Enterprise, Nearline SAS

  1. Easy Tier features include extendable support in automatic mode for FC (enterprise class) and SATA storage tiers.
  2. SATA drives are not available in SAS 2.5” form factor.