Data Storage

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    Features of LTO Technology over the Years

    Linear Tape Open or better known as (LTO) Ultrium is a high-capacity, single-reel tape storage created and frequently improved by HPE, IBM and Quantum. LTO tape is a powerful yet scalable tape format that helps address the growing demands of data protection.

    PROVIDING GROWTH FOR GENERATIONS.

    Originally introduced at the turn of the new millennium, LTO technology is currently in its 8th generation out of a proposed twelve generations. LTO-8 supports storage capacity of up to 30 TB compressed, twice that of the previous generation LTO-7, and data transfer rates of up to 750MB/second. New generations of LTO storage have been launched consistently with higher capacity and transfer rates along with new features to further protect enterprise data. Furthermore, LTO storage is designed for backward compatibility meaning it can write back one generation and read back two generations of tape. Currently, LTO-8 Ultrium drives are able to read and write LTO -7 and LTO-8 media, ensuring the data storage investment.

    WORM

    LTO technology highlights a write-once, read-many (WORM) ability to make certain that your data isn’t overwritten and supports compliance regulations. The LTO WORM operation is designed to give users a very cost-effective means of storing data in a non-rewriteable format. With the increasing importance of regulatory compliance — including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and SEC Rule 17-a-4(f) — there is a need for a cost-effective storage solution that can ensure security of corporate data in an permanent format. LTO WORM contains algorithms using the Cartridge Memory (CM), in combination with low level encoding that is mastered on the tape media to prevent tampering.

     

    Encryption

    LTO technology features robust encryption capabilities to heighten security and privacy during storage and transport of tape cartridges. Sadly, it seems like a common occurrence now when a company suffers a breach in security and endangers confidential or private information. Fortunately, recent generation LTO tape drives include one of the strongest encryption capabilities available in the industry to help safeguard the most vulnerable data stored on tape cartridges. LTO tape encryption is specific to all LTO generations since generation 4 (LTO-4). It features a 256-symmetric key AES-GCM algorithm that is implemented at the drive level. This facilitates compression before encryption to maximize tape capacities and deliver high performance during backup. With a rising number of laws and regulations and financial penalties, a security breach can be damaging for corporations. Data managers are called upon to develop effective security for sensitive data and are turning to tape encryption.

     

    Partitioning

    More modern generations of LTO technology include a partitioning feature, which help to enhance file control and space management with the Linear Tape File System (LTFS).

    Beginning with the 5th generation (LTO-5), LTO technology specifications consist of a partitioning feature that allows for a new standard in ease-of-use and portability.

    Partitioning allows for a section of the tape to be set aside for indexing, which tells the drive exactly where in the tape a file is stored.  The second partition holds the actual file.  With LTFS, the indexing information is first read by the drive and presented in a simple, easy-to-use format that allows for “drag and drop” capabilities, similar to a thumb drive.

    Why Your Data Storage Strategy Should Include Tape

    As most businesses utilize the latest in flash and cloud storage technologies to keep up with extensive data growth, tape technology continues to thrive. The decades-old storage platform has continued to be remarkably dependable throughout the multiple innovations in storage equipment. In fact, tape still offers numerous benefits when it comes to backup, archival and other mass storage of data.

     

    Tape’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

     

    The cost per gigabyte of tape storage is less than a penny compared to about three cents for hard disk storage, according to Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). In the long run, tape is also less expensive than cloud storage. The hardware, software, and operational costs are all more costly with other forms of data storage technologies. Additionally, tape has a smaller footprint and uses considerably less power than disk. ESG found that in a 10-year total cost of ownership (TCO) study, an LTO tape solution cost just 14% as much as an all-disk infrastructure, and 17% as much as a hybrid disk/cloud storage solution.

     

    The Density of LTO Tape Technology

     

    One of tape’s key value propositions is its density. The most recent release of Linear Tape Open (LTO) Ultrium 8 technology provides capacity of up to 30TB of compressed storage.

     

    The Lifespan of Data Stored on Tape

     

    Yet another major benefit of tape is its longevity of data storage. LTO tape media has a lifespan of 30 years or more, with the average tape drive lasting nearly 10 years. In contrast, the average disk storage lasts roughly four years. ESG conducted a lab audit of LTO-8 drives and found them to be more reliable than disk.

     

    The Ever-Increasing Speed of LTO Tape

     

    There are still several people that hold to the belief that tape is much too slow to be useful in today’s rapidly evolving IT environment. However, the increases in storage speeds over the 8 generations of LTO tape hasn’t been seen by any other storage solutions. For instance, LTO-7 provides compressed data transfer rates of up to 750MB per second, that’s more than 2.7TB per hour, compared to the 80MB per second of LTO-3 which was released only ten years prior.

     

    Data Tape Software

     

    Not only had tape increased in density and speed over the years, tape has also gotten smarter. Linear Tape File System (LTFS) allows tape data to be read as just another drive on a network. Users can drag and drop files to tape and can see a list of saved files using an operating system directory. LTFS is an open standard supported by LTO drives from any manufacturer. By making it possible to maneuver files on tape just as you would with disk, LTFS allows organizations to use tape for more than backup and archival. Tape becomes part of an “active” archival infrastructure in which data can be moved to the most cost-effective storage tier at any time. As a result, tape is increasingly used for audio/video and surveillance data, and in big data and regulatory compliance use cases.

     

    The Future of LTO

     

    LTO technology continues to improve. The LTO Consortium recently finalized the LTO-9 specification and announced plans for the development through 12 generations of the storage technology. LTO-9 is slated for release in Fall 2020. IBM introduced a tape drive based upon the most advanced LTO-8, which offers compressed capacity of up to 30TB (12TB native) and compressed data transfer rates of up to 900MB per second (360MB per second native). The drive comes with AME and AES-256 encryption and write-one-read-many (WORM) capabilities for data protection and is compatible with LTO-7 media.

     

    Tape as a lower cost, portable, and simple to use storage solution has always made it a fantastic choice for long-term archival backup. LTO innovations over the past decade have produced unparalleled increases in capacity and greatly superior economics compared to other storage technologies on the market.

    Infographic: The Importance of Data Backup

    Why is it important to backup your data?

    Your organization may have a top of the line computers and equipment, but eventually they’re going to be obsolete and you don’t want lose your data. Even worse, the Internet harbors many potential threats to data. Viruses and trojans don’t just  steal data they erase it.

    There is also the threat of ransomware. That’s when a hacker puts a virus on your computer that encrypts your data, making it useless. You may have to pay a ransom in order for the hacker to unencrypt your data, with no guarantee that he or she will do so. If you have a current backup of your data, this is less of a worry. You can just wipe your hard drive and restore it to your latest backup.

    Everything You Need to Know About Offsite Data Backup

    All About Offsite Data Backup and How It Works

    Does your business maintain and operate a high-level enterprise data center? If so, then you can’t afford not to delve into offsite data backup. However, the process of knowing exactly how to go about it can be quite confusing to some. That’s why we’re covering the ins and outs of offsite data backup.

    Here are a few things to consider before starting (we’ll go over each):

    • Recovery-point objective (RPO)
    • Recovery-time objective (RTO)
    • Method
    • Risk
    • Cost
    offsite data backup solutions

    Offsite Data Backup Simply Explained

    In essence, it’s a method of backing up data to a remote, cloud-based server or to another piece of data storage hardware. The data storage hardware can then be transported, somewhere other than where the other data is stored, hence the term off-site.

    Factors to Consider

    Recovery-Time Objective (RTO)

    The recovery-time objective is the time it will take you to recover any lost data. This is one of, if not the main reason to look into the different offsite data backup options available. It is always smart to ensure your data is secure, no matter what.

    When utilizing offsite data storage with physical data storage hardware like data tape cartridges, down time can be a factor in your company’s RTO. For example, if your company is located in California and your storage facility is located in Arizona, there will be a downtime in the transportation between the two locations.

    However, it is a good idea to have a fair amount of distance between your backup data and mainline data. This practice will protect against a total data loss if both were stored in the same local area. If a natural disaster were to occur, all of your data could be completely wiped out.

    In the event of a natural disaster at the mainline facility, a data recovery would require physically moving tape cartridges between locations. With the task of setting them up for a restoration included, you’ll need to account for shipping and travel time. However, this also depends on the size of the company, the number of tape cartridges. And the amount of data attempting to be restored.

    Recovery-Point Objective (RPO)

    The recovery point objective is the amount of time between data backups, based on the method you use to back up your data. For obvious reasons, cloud backup storage comes with the most advantages in terms of RPO. Some of them include:

    • Multiple backups in any given 24-hour period
    • No physical hardware to buy, maintain, or store
    • Quicker recovery times

    While using physical data tape cartridges has security and cost advantages of its own, the data backup opportunities might not be as convenient. This goes with saying that should an organization experience a major data loss, they may not be guaranteed accurate, up to date information.

    The Risk of Offsite Backup

    The utilization of cloud services as a backup and data storage is becoming more popular than ever before; even among organizations that prefer a hybrid approach.

    However, many companies still have concerns about potential security breaches within a cloud service provider. This cloud apprehension has led to the recent comeback of hard disk storage.

    The way you decide to implement your data backup will affect your RPO and RTO, and both methods come with their own risks. For example:

    • You can increase security and reduce risk by storing tape cartridges farther; resulting in an increased RTO and decreased RPO.
    • You can decrease the RTO and increase the RPO by storing tape cartridges at a nearby location; resulting in an increased risk of losing them in a location-wide catastrophe.

    The first thing any company should do is decide on the data backup method that is right for their individual needs. That crucial decision will make it much easier to weigh the pros and cons of the specific method they choose.

    streamer, tape library for data backup

    The Cost of Offsite Backup

    Your choice of method for backing up your data will also have an effect on financial decisions.

    Cloud service providers require different fees for different plans. Most providers have monthly and annual plans that can also determine the cost benefits associated with each.

    Disk drive and data tape storage have other expense factors associated like:

    • Cost of the data storage hardware (tape storage cartridges)
    • Transportation or shipping fees to an off-site location
    • Overhead associated with an off-site data storage facility (rent, mortgage, utilities’, etc.)
    • The cost of updating a live data copy

    At the end of the day, an organization is responsible for balancing the cost and the risk associated with managing its RTO and RPO. It comes down to the size of the business, the amount of data that requires an updated back up, how often the backups need to occur, and the overall budget assigned to the backup itself.

    How We Can Help

    The decisions any organization has to make when choosing on an off-site data storage solution are going depend on the size of the company and its data center, the location of both the main site and the off-site facilities, the type of storage hardware being used, and even type of data being stored.

    Nevertheless, general data security, data storage, and data backup best practices are going to remain fairly constant. A business can adopt its own plan and strategy to fit its individual data requirements, but the most important thing that must remain is taking an active part in the safety of vital data.

    Trusting the help of a reputable ITAD vendor makes a huge difference. There are countless security measures that a business may not think to take into account. A professional ITAD company will to ensure your data is properly secure from start to finish.

    Since 1965, we’ve been in the business of helping organizations with all of their IT asset needs. With over 130 years combined industry experience, our equipment experts can assist in offloading old or retired hardware fast and easy. Contact us today for a free quote and see why we’ve been trusted by businesses both large and small for over half a century.

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