Monday, 1 June 2015

Storage Media: Why tape storage is here to stay!

You may not consider tape to be an innovative technology, but perhaps it's time to think again. During the last decade, tape storage has witnessed massive improvement in terms of capacity and performance and benefited from continuous innovation in critical areas relating to cost, reliability and ease of use. Today, this evergreen technology can effectively address new data protection opportunities in addition to its traditional role as a backup device.

And, although it’s important to note that disk storage has made advances during the same period, tape’s progress has been more than equal to it.

First, let's set the scene with some important facts about the tape media business (source: Santa Clara Global Quarterly Backup Tracker Q4 CY14, February 2015):

1. Customers are using more tape storage than at any point in history – In Q4, the market shipped 6,638 petabytes of capacity on new low & midrange tape formats (LTO, DAT, DLT, AIT) – a record total!

2. LTO Ultrium is the most popular technology – accounting for 97% of those shipments in a market worth $117.6M. Hewlett-Packard is the leading brand in this category and has been since mid-2002. In particular, LTO-5 (3 TB per unit with 2:1 compression) and LTO-6 (6.25 TB per unit with 2.5:1 compression) account for 82% of total capacity shipped.

3. The cost of tape storage media is the lowest it has ever been - When LTO-1 was launched in 2001, it offered a compressed cost per GB of about $0.60. Today, LTO-6 offers a native cost per GB of less than $0.01, as recently announced by the LTO Consortium. To purchase 2.5 TB of HP tape media capacity in 2000 would have cost $3,125. Today it costs about $50!

So why does tape look set to remain so popular in 2015, for data protection in general, and archive in particular?

The answer lies in the on-going business value of the technology. It's not just about performance, capacity and usability, but also how technology can lower costs, reduce risks, and improve productivity within an organisation. From that point of view, tape continues to impress.

Low Cost of Ownership - Tape continues to offer one of the lowest costs per terabyte for any type of storage, especially when you consider energy consumption and carbon footprint, which both should be factored in for a true like-for-like comparison. When comparing the TCO of an LTO tape library and a disk array over a 9 year period, disk storage is 26 times the average TCO of tape. The cost of energy alone for the average disk-based solution exceeds the entire TCO for the typical tape-based solution!

Risk Reduction – A primary purpose of any backup or archive program is data retrieval and restoration. The LTO tape drives, libraries and media have great reliability and availability features such as hardware redundancy, path failover, proactive health monitoring software and data archive verification software. These help to ensure that data is always available and recoverable. Plus, tape cartridges can be easily and securely transported off-site so they are safe from security threats and cyber attacks that could occur without warning.

Productivity Improvements – As data growth increases uncontrollably, it's never been a more important time for businesses to effectively manage their backup and archiving infrastructure. Luckily, tape can be scaled almost effortlessly – it's just a case of adding more tape cartridges and tape expansion modules – and with very little additional cost. Meanwhile, innovative technologies like Linear Tape File System (LTFS), Tape As NAS (tNAS) and Flash And Tape (FLAPE) make tape even simpler to access, use and share.

So, in conclusion, tape is very much alive and should not be discounted as no longer being a key strategic storage technology!

Significant innovations have been made in terms of performance, higher capacity, power efficiency, improved reliability, ease of use and budget-friendliness. If you haven’t considered tape storage recently, you may want to take the time to do so (or have a second, or third, look!)

But tape today still has an amazing amount to offer.
For more information on tape today and in the future, contact your Westcoast Account Manager or why not take a look at our range of Storage Media that you can buy directly from our website? Click here

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