Do you Have Terabytes or Petabytes?

You may be a small- or medium-sized business with storage needs in the terabyte (TB) range or perhaps you are a large enterprise with mountains of data measured in petabytes (PBs).  In either case, both of these environments have many similar business objectives, one of which is managing data in the most cost-efficient way. In this BlogBytes, we will discuss how tape technology plays a key role in small, medium and large enterprise environments. We will also consider two important elements of storage management that are often overlooked or misdiagnosed – energy consumption and personnel costs.

Energy – Keep it Down!

Let’s start with that precious commodity – energy. Storage systems need power to perform their functions and some, (such as disk systems), need significant cooling to control the heat that is generated. Energy consumption can be a large budget item for both small and large organizations.  Therefore, it is important to know that disk systems can use roughly 76 times more power than a similarly configured tape system as shown in a Clipper Group cost analysis study [1].

According to the Clipper Group study, the energy requirements, as measured in megawatt hours (MWh), to store 1PB of storage growing at a rate of 40 percent per year for a total of nine years, were as follows:

Average Total for Disk ……. 5,053 MWh

Average Total for Tape ……… 67 MWh

In another Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study conducted by ESG [2], a disk solution was compared to an LTO tape solution. The disk scenario generated over 10 times the amount of energy costs compared to the tape scenario! It is very clear that there are significant energy cost considerations when deciding where to place data for long–term storage.  If you think about it, a tape cartridge full of data sitting on a shelf or in a tape library slot consumes no power. Conserve energy and keep costs down – use LTO-7 tape!

Personnel – What have you done today?

In sales teams, the boss will loudly praise a salesperson that gets an important client to place a big order. The next day the same boss asks the same salesperson, “What have you done today?”  Many IT managers ask their staff the same question. Being productive in storage management is similar because personnel costs grow daily and need to be used wisely.

In disk storage management, it is estimated that one full-time engineer is needed for every 200 TBs of disk storage. In contrast, for a tape environment, it is estimated that one engineer can handle multiple PBs of tape storage. The ESG cost analysis study [2] showed that staffing costs over a ten year period for the disk scenario were about 7.5 times higher than for the LTO tape scenario.  Next time you’re asked, “What have you done today?”  Hopefully, your response is: “We made smart staffing choices!”

Energy consumption and personnel costs are paramount for small, medium and large enterprises. Other considerations where LTO tape technology can play an important role include, equipment acquisition costs, media expenses and maintenance and upgrade costs, as well as data protection expenses. See more about data protection here.

LTO technology comes in a variety of configurations. From a single tape drive to medium and large libraries managing multi-petabytes, LTO tape helps businesses of all sizes manage costs and protect data for the long term.  See LTO-7 tape facts here.


[1] M. Kahn and D. Reine, “Continuing the Search for the Right Mix of Long-Term Storage Infrastructure — A TCO Analysis of Disk and Tape Solutions” The Clipper Group Report #TCG2015006 July 15, 2015
[2] J. Buffington, “Analyzing the Economic Value of LTO Tape for Long-term Data Retention” ESG February 2016