Storage managers are continually monitoring, managing and struggling with cost control related to the storage of data – whether it is in a small, medium or large enterprise environment. Managers want to improve their capital expenditure efficiency while providing outstanding service. In February, 2016, The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) released a white paper describing a 10 year total cost of ownership study comparing LTO tape storage with disk storage for large scale long term data retention. The paper, called “Analyzing the Economic Value of LTO Tape for Long-term Data Retention,” concludes with what ESG calls ‘The Bigger Truth,’ which shows that dramatic savings in hardware, media, staff and maintenance costs can be achieved by leveraging tape over disk.
LTO-7 Technology Reliability and Performance Analyzed
In an earlier report, ESG Labs analyzed LTO-7 tape technology reliability and discovered that LTO-7 media and drives are orders of magnitude more reliable than enterprise-class disk drives. In addition, ESG Labs also confirmed that LTO technology can be used to meet the performance needs of the most demanding streaming workloads: “ESG is pleased to report that LTO tape is thriving and has a bright future in organizations of all sizes, including some of the largest public cloud providers on the planet.”
In the new TCO white paper, ESG performed an in-depth 10 year total cost analysis of LTO tape versus a present mode of operation (PMO) all-disk storage solution. The study encompassed eight key cost metrics: hardware, software, media, infrastructure (i.e., power costs and rack space opportunity costs), maintenance charges, staff costs, data migration costs, and data access costs. According to the study, the result is an impressive 577% return on investment for the tape system over ten years when accounting both for avoided costs and net new economic improvements. Let’s look at some of the major white paper findings.
Overview of the White Paper Findings
- TCO: The annual average TCO for the LTO tape scenario is estimated as $241,110, a significant 85% savings compared with the disk system annual TCO of $1,590,960. Total ten-year cost of ownership was only $2.4M for the LTO tape system versus $16.8M for the disk system, a dramatic difference over the timeline.
- User Productivity: there are incremental benefits for the LTO scenario quantified by ESG’s model, namely improvements in user productivity during retrieval events. By leveraging the Linear Tape File System (LTFS), organizations have the opportunity to allow for self-service retrievals of data, eliminating any back and forth with backup administrators and allowing users to access the data they need faster.
- ROI: the modeled ROI for utilizing LTO storage to retain a large data store is 577%.
- Energy Consumption: the total data center power costs in the disk scenario are modeled at $21,804 annually, over an order of magnitude more than in the LTO scenario.
- Total Infrastructure: considering both power and data center real estate costs, the LTO solution is estimated to be 46% less costly than the disk solution over a ten-year time horizon.
- Maintenance: the 10 year disk system maintenance costs were 20 times more than the LTO system costs, yielding a significant $1.6M in lower maintenance costs in the LTO scenario compared with the disk scenario.
- Staff Personnel: an LTO-based data store powered by the usability of LTFS is a far more scalable solution. Many multi-PB customer environments are typically managed by a single FTE or less for a tape solution. ESG’s model estimates a total staff cost over ten years of about $6.8M for the disk scenario and only about $910,000 in the LTO scenario.
Data Migration: As any storage administrator can attest, data migrations are a painful process. Within an LTO environment, potentially painful forklift upgrades and costly data migrations are eliminated. LTO drives are open: different vendors’ solutions are compatible with one another and future generations of LTO drives are compatible with the previous generation. By contrast, disk-based solutions are fraught with the risk of a painful data migration. An organization may outgrow an array or change vendors over time, either of which can come with an expensive and painful data migration.
The ESG TCO white paper summarizes, “for IT organizations looking to increase their efficiency in the realm of capital expenditure, while boosting their ability to be an exceptional service bureau for the organization by freeing up highly skilled administrators to focus on other endeavors, LTO tape solutions warrant close consideration.”