Hierarchical Storage Management

What Does Hierarchical Storage Management Mean?

Hierarchical storage management (HSM) is a data storage software tool that is used to transparently move data between various types of storage media. The HSM technique is designed to automate the migration and retrieval of data between expensive storage media such as hard disk drives and low-cost media such as optical disks and magnetic tapes.


The concept of HSM technology is similar to a computer’s memory cache, where the most actively used data are stored on expensive static random access memory (SRAM) and the less frequently accessed data are stored on a much slower dynamic random access memory (DRAM).

HSM technology has been widely implemented by IBM in the mainframe environment. HSM is also known as tiered storage.

Techopedia Explains Hierarchical Storage Management

In heterogeneous computing environments, hierarchical storage management software provides a way to move the data between storage devices that are organized in a descending hierarchy level with respect to cost and performance. The HSM software automatically moves the data on the storage device that offers the optimum cost/performance ratio for that data. All the data stored in the repository appear online to the user, regardless of whether they are stored as online, near-line or offline. The HSM tool monitors data use, keeping frequently accessed files at online level. The less frequently accessed files are moved to slower devices. The most active and frequently accessed files are left on expensive storage devices until they are disused and again moved back to less expensive optical or tape devices.

The advantages of HSM technology include:

  • Large amount of data can be stored in a relatively small storage space
  • Reduced data storage costs
  • Simplified data retrieval from lower level devices
  • Transparency

The HSM technology is implemented on Solaris, HP-UX and Linux.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…