LTO Technology Passes Lab Review with Flying Colors

ESG Technology Lab Review Deems LTO Tape is Ready for the Next-generation Data Centerblog1

In a detailed report published November 11, 2015 by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), LTO technology, including the latest LTO generation-7, is examined and put to an exhaustive test in a variety of categories.  The report’s bottom-line? “Nothing is more cost-effective, reliable, and energy-efficient for long-term data retention than a tape in a library slot or on a shelf, and it continues to play a key role for organizations across the globe.” This is great news for organizations of all sizes as they struggle to balance data protection and performance with the costs of storing data long term.

The categories under examination included the LTO technology roadmap, use cases, data protection, reliability, performance, scale, and more.  Let’s look at a couple of these categories a little more closely.

Use Cases – Protecting Data

The report discusses several use cases which are quite interesting.  LTO tape technology is continually deployed in standalone, distributed and high capacity environments to backup and archive data, safeguarding against unintentional and intentional disasters. With the advent of LTO tape partitioning, introduced in LTO generation-5, each tape can become self-describing by storing the data content in one partition, and the index-metadata (describing the content) in another partition. Partitioning made the Linear Tape File System possible, which opened up a slew of new use cases and allowed organizations to utilize tape more easily, in a manner like using disk or a USB drive. Files can be copied and pasted or dragged and dropped to and from the tape! Organizations in a variety of industries from media & entertainment to law enforcement are using LTO technology with LTFS, as the report notes “to address the challenges of managing ever-growing tertiary and even primary storage.”

NAS Tape – Balancing Performance, Protection & Cost

(Figure 1) Tape-as-NAS

(Figure 1) Tape-as-NAS

These innovations allow for LTO technology to be used in a “Tape-as-NAS” environment. This is an outstanding tiered storage implementation that balances performance, data protection and cost. As described in the ESG report, “LTFS-formatted media is stored in an automated LTO tape library and is used as high-capacity, cost-efficient back-end storage to a front-end NAS server (Figure 1). This process enables active data (such as those files currently being modified) to be serviced from a small amount of disk cache on the NAS server, and less active data to be stored on large-capacity LTO media in the automated library as an active archive.”

Reliability – Better Chance of Getting Hit by Lightningblog3

That’s right, according to the ESG findings, you would have a greater chance of getting hit by lightning, eaten by a shark, or even winning the lottery than having an uncorrectable error in your LTO tape media.  The report states, “These (LTO technology) format design features produce a one in 1019 bit-error-rate (BER) for LTO-7 media. In layman’s terms, this means that it would take 130 tape drives writing data continually for one year to encounter an error that could not be fixed by ECC.” The report goes on to say that you are more likely (1 in 1016) to hit an uncorrectable error in your enterprise disk environment (than with LTO-7 tape).

There are many more intriguing details in the ESG lab report. Suffice it to say, LTO tape technology can be the ultimate ingredient  to help improve the health, wealth and well being of your organizations data storage environment.