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.

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