Some have said that tape storage is dying or is even dead! They say that tape is slow, not easy to use, requires lots of people to manage, costs more than disk, and is not as reliable as other forms of storage. Those thoughts have been shown to be false. Read on to understand why data sticks to tape.
Feel the Need for Speed
Some disk only vendors that don’t have tape products in their portfolio make these false claims. It’s been said that disk is faster than tape. Keep in mind, performance can differ depending on the type of disk system or tape drive and automation system. As discussed in an article at EnterpriseStorageForum.com called “Will the ‘Tape is Dead’ Folks Please Sit Down,” disk is generally faster with random access, however, tape performance is generally superior with sequential access, which is why tape is particularly useful with backup, archive and big data sets. LTO-6 tape drives provide up to 400 MB/s data transfer rates. That’s more than 1.4TB per hour of blazing backup and archive performance per drive.
EASY – Do It Automatically
Most storage environments are deployed as autonomic systems. That is, software and hardware working in concert, functionally independent, to help provide investment protection. In this environment, data is cataloged and driven to automated tape systems, with robotics, that store, inventory and move cartridges without human intervention helping to make it easy to manage. Site-to-Site replication of data by lifecycle management software means modern systems physically move media less than ever before. The advent of the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) makes tape even easier to use. LTFS stores data on tape along with the metadata of how to access the data in a file system format in a manner like disk storage. This has enabled managed service providers, file system targeting applications and software integrators to implement low cost tape solutions for massive data repositories without needing to understand the commands that control tape. The continuous innovations in tape usage require less and less intervention of an already stable storage medium. With these innovations and automated processes some have said that an IT storage specialist can manage 10 times the amount of data on tape versus disk.
Show Me the Money
So, how much does tape cost and how does it compare to disk? LTO-6 tape costs less than 1 cent per gigabyte. In a ten year total cost of ownership study, Brad Johns Consulting compared a disk based system with an LTO based storage system, and found that the disk based system was 5 times more costly than the LTO system. In addition, the energy costs were nearly 95% less for the LTO based system. When you consider that 80-90% of most files stored are typically inactive, organizations are paying a high price if this cold data is stored long term on disk. Tape storage is the economy of scale for long term data retention to help you see more $$$.
You Can Rely On This
Disk and tape both have made significant reliability enhancements in recent years but those that say tape is not as reliable are misinformed. According to a report from Horison, Inc., tape has a better bit error rate (BER) than disk (Figure 3). The BER is the percentage of bits that have errors relative to the total number of bits received in a data transfer. High data integrity for LTO tape is accomplished by a number of technologies including read after write verification, advanced error correction code, state of the art media formulations, and a servo tracking system to help provide precision data reads and writes. Don’t buy into the naysayers. Use a blend of disk and tape to help your data stick long term!
1 Tape Storage Future Directions and the Data Explosion. Horison, Inc