Linear Tape Open

    TapeChat with Pat

    At DTC, we value great relationships. Luckily for us, we have some of the best industry contacts out there when it comes to tape media storage & backup. Patrick Mayock, a Partner Development Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is one of those individuals. Pat has been with HPE for the last 7 years and prior to that has been in the data backup / storage industry for the last 30 years. Pat is our go to guy at HPE, a true source of support, and overall great colleague. For our TapeChat series Pat was our top choice. Pat’s resume is an extensive one that would impress anyone who see’s it. Pat started his data / media storage journey back in the early 90’s in the bay area. Fast forward to today Pat can be found in the greater Denver area with the great minds over at HPE. Pat knows his stuff so sit back and enjoy this little Q&A we setup for you guys. We hope you enjoy and without further adieu, we welcome you to our series, TapeChat (with Pat)!

    Pat, thank you for taking the time to join us digitally for this online Q&A. We would like to start off by stating how thrilled we are to have you with us. You’re an industry veteran and we’re honored to have you involved in our online content.

    Thanks for the invite.  I enjoy working with your crew and am always impressed by your innovative strategies to reach out to new prospects and educate existing customers on the growing role of LTO tape from SMB to the Data Center. 

    Let’s jump right into it! For the sake of starting things out on a fun note, what is the craziest story or experience you have had or know of involving the LTO / Tape industry? Maybe a fun fact that most are unaware of, or something you would typically tell friends and family… Anything that stands out…

    I’ve worked with a few tape library companies over the years and before that I sold the original 9 track ½ inch tape drives.  Those were monsters, but you would laugh how little data they stored on a reel of tape. One of the most memorable projects I worked on was in the Bay Area, at Oracle headquarters.  They had the idea to migrate from reel to reel tape drives with a plan to replace them with compact, rack mounted, ‘robotic’ tape libraries.  At the end, they replaced those library type shelves, storing hundreds of reels of tape with 32 tape libraries in their computer cabinets.  Each tape library had room for 40 tape slots and four 5 ¼ full high tape drives.  The contrast was impressive.  To restore data, they went from IT staffers physically moving tape media, in ‘sneaker mode’ to having software locate where the data was stored, grab and load the tape automatically in the tape library and start reading data.   Ok, maybe too much of a tape story, but as a young sales rep at the time it was one that I’ll never forget. 

    With someone like yourself who has been doing this for such a long time, what industry advancements and releases still get you excited to this day? What is Pat looking forward to right now in the LTO Tape world?

    I’m lucky.  We used to have five or more tape technologies all fighting for their place in the data protection equation, each from a different vendor. Now, Ultrium LTO tape has a majority of the market and is supported by a coalition of multiple technology vendors working together to advance the design. Some work in the physical tape media, some on the read/write heads, and some on the tape drive itself.  The business has become more predictable and more reliable.  About every two years the consortium releases the next level of LTO tape technology.  We will see LTO-9 technology begin public announcements by the end of 2020. And the thirst for higher storage capacity and higher performance in the same physical space, this is what keeps me more than optimistic about the future.

    When our sales team is making calls and asks a business if they are still backing up to LTO Tape, that question is always met with such an unappreciated / outdated response, in some cases we receive a response of laughter with something along the lines of “people still use tape” as a response. Why do you think LTO as a backup option is getting this type of response? What is it specifically about the technology that makes businesses feel as if LTO Tape is a way of the past…

    As a Tape Guy, I hear that question a lot.  The reality in the market is that some industries are generating so much data that they have to increase their dependence on tape based solutions as part of their storage hierarchy. It starts with just the cost comparison of data on a single disk drive versus that same amount of data on a LTO tape cartridge. LTO tape wins. But the real impact is some much bigger than just that.  Think about the really large data center facilities.  The bigger considerations are for instance, for a given amount of data (a lot) what solution can fit the most data in to a cabinet size solution.  Physical floor space in the data center is at a premium.  Tape wins. Then consider the cost of having that data accessible.  A rack of disk drives consume tons more energy that a tape library. Tape wins again. Then consider the cooling cost that go along with all those disk drives spinning platters.  Tape wins, creating a greener solution that is more cost effective. At HPE and available from DTC, we have white papers and presentations on just this topic of cost savings.   In summary, if a company is not looking at or using LTO tape, then their data retention, data protection and data archiving needs are just not yet at the breaking point. 

    There seems to be an emergence of the Disk / Hard Drive backup option being utilized by so many businesses. Do you feel like LTO Tape will ever be looked at with the same level of respect or appreciation by those same businesses?

    If you are talking about solid state disk for high access, and dedicated disk drive solutions for backup – sure that works.  But at some point you need multiple copies at multiple locations to protect your investment.  The downside of most disk only solutions is that all the data is accessible across the network.  Now days, Ransomware and CyberSecurity are part of the biggest threats to corporations, government agencies and even mom and pop SMBs.  The unique advantage of adding LTO tape based tape libraries is that the data is NOT easily tapped into because the physical media in not in the tape drive.  Again, HPE has very detailed white papers and presentations on this Air Gap principle, all available from DTC. 

    LTO Tape vs Hard Drive seems to be the big two in terms of the data / backup realm, as an insider to this topic, where do you see this battle going in the far future?

    It’s less of a battle and more of a plan to ‘divide the work load and let’s work together’.  In most environments, tape and disk work side by side with applications selecting where the data is kept. However, there are physical limitations on how much space is available on a spinning platter or set of platters, and this will dramatically slow down the growth of their capacity within a given form factor. With LTO tape technology, the physical areal footprint is so much bigger, because of the thousands of feet of tape within each tape cartridge. At LTO-8 we have 960 meters of tape to write on. Even at a half inch wide, that’s a lot of space for data. Both disk and tape technologies will improve how much data they can fit on their media, (areal density) but LTO tape just has the advantage of so much space to work with. LTO tape will continue to follow the future roadmap which is already spec’d out to LTO-12.  

    With so many years in this industry, what has been the highlight of your career?

    The technology has always impressed me, learning and talking about the details of a particular technical design advantage. Then, being able to work with a wide range of IT specialists and learning about their business and what they actually do with the data.  But when I look back, on the biggest highlights,  I remember all the great people that I have worked with side by side to solve customer’s storage and data protection problems.  Sometimes we won, sometimes we didn’t.  I will never forget working to do our best for the deal. 

    What tech advancements do you hope to see rolled out that would be a game changer for data storage as a whole?

    The data storage evolution is driven by the creation of more data, every day.  When one technology fails to keep pace with the growth, another one steps up to the challenge.  Like I have said, LTO tape has a pretty solid path forward for easily 6 more years of breakthrough advancements. In 6 years, I’m sure there will be some new technology working to knock out LTO, some new technology that today is just an idea. 

    We see more and more companies getting hit every day with ransomware / data theft due to hackers, what are your thoughts on this and where do you see things going with this. Will we ever reach a point where this will start to level off or become less common?

    Ransomware and cyber security are the hot topics keeping IT Directors and business owners up at night. It is a criminal activity that is highly lucrative. Criminals will continue to attempt to steal data, block access and hold companies for ransom wherever they can.  But they prefer easy targets. As I mentioned earlier, Tape Solutions offer one key advantage in this battle: if the data isn’t live on the network, the hacker has to work harder. This is a critical step to protect your data. 

    For more information on Pat, data backup / storage, + more follow Pat on Twitter:

    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.

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