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.
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