Tape Rises to the Top

“The chances are good that your data will end up on magnetic tape,” proclaimed Jon Toigo of Toigo Partners International in a TechTarget article.  This Blogbytes article aims to dispel the myths about tape’s role in data centers, and examine why LTO technology is a storage “must have” for IT directors and cloud vendors who are concerned about securely preserving their data and controlling costs.

Tape myths dispelled

Tape is slow! Wrong. Tape is faster than most (if not all) hard disk meaning it’s capable of handling high-performance jobs! With LTO-7 technology it is possible to transfer data at speeds of up to 750 MB/s and one drive can stream up to 2.7 terabytes per hour!1.  We think that’s pretty impressive!

Tape is Expensive! Wrong.  An LTO tape solution has been shown to be up to 7X less costly than a competitively configured disk system. Tape’s impressive return on investment (ROI) is shown in a 10 year Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study conducted by ESG. See the TCO report here.

Tape is complex and requires lots of people! Wrong.  With the use of automated tape libraries, very few people are involved – the automation can do the work! With the advent of the Linear Tape File System (LTFS), tape files are easy to access in a way much like using a removable disk or USB memory stick. See how LTFS works here.

Tape is not reliable! Wrong. LTO tape has been shown to have a high level of data integrity. An ESG lab 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 note that you are more likely (1 in 1016) to hit an uncorrectable error in your enterprise disk environment than with LTO-7 tape.

What makes LTO technology so desirable?

According to the most recent LTO tape shipment report, a record 96,000 petabytes of total compressed tape capacity was shipped in 2016. This is an increase of 26.1 percent over the previous year!  The impressive adoption of LTO tape is due to LTO-7 tape’s high capacity and blazing speed, as well as the growing need to store and preserve large amounts of data safely while managing tight budgets. As data ages, it is less frequently accessed. Typically, up to 90 percent of stored data is not accessed again! Why store this data on expensive storage real estate forever? Why expose this data to online cyber-threats like viruses and hackers? Storage managers know they can move the data to LTO tape where it can be economically and safely preserved off-line away from on-line attacks.  As previously mentioned, LTO tape has significant savings compared to disk. The TCO study showed that the modeled ROI for utilizing LTO technology to retain a large data store was 577 percent!

How Does LTFS Make Tape Even Better?

LTFS can be used in a similar manner to using disk. As mentioned by Jon Toigo in the TechTarget article, “With LTFS, tape stores files and objects without the need for backup software. The native file or object system used to record the data is replicated completely to the tape media.” Toigo continues, “Very good implementations of LTFS technology are being made by various vendors. Companies can drop this technology into their environments and use it with virtually any kind of storage infrastructure or application workload.”

Accessing tape files with LTFS is as easy as drag and drop with your mouse. It can even be accessed automatically with LTFS supported backup and archive applications. See a list of LTFS supporting vendors here.

When it comes to managing large data stores, preservation, cost control and security are key storage needs. With this in mind, LTO technology is at the top of the list when it comes to must have storage technologies.  See a video review of LTO-7 technology here.

1Assuming a 2.5:1 compression achieved with larger compression history buffer available beginning with LTO generation 6 drives.