“Multiple billions of people and sensors and systems connected in billions of global networks have generated and will continue to generate immense quantities of data.” This quote comes from a new white paper penned by John Monroe of Furthur Market Research called Storage Management in an Age of Minimal Data Deletion. The paper examines the usage, forecasts and strategies for managing the ever increasing quantities of information. This BlogBytes article will review some of the key findings from this must read captivating research. Let’s dive in!


The Monroe paper cleverly expresses that “It has become a cliché to say that ‘data is the new oil’—unlike oil never to be burned but like oil always to be mined for its potential value.” More and more data is being retained for longer periods of time because, like oil, it is a highly valuable commodity that can help address and answer always pressing queries regarding product, customers and investments. The paper notes that; “We are squarely in the midst of the ‘zettabyte era.’ And we are loathe to delete any data.” Proof of this ‘keep the data’ mentality is a survey that Furthur Market Research conducted with executives responsible for the management of large petabyte databases. When asked: ‘What percent of your enterprise data must be retained in some immutable form and for how long?’, the overwhelming answer was “Indefinite—for 100% of their data.” The executives felt that they would “absolutely need that old data for some unspecified, but critical, future purpose.” The question then becomes, where to safely store it long term.


When it comes to data classification, the report surmises that “… in most data centers, [about] 30% of the data will be classified as hot in 2030, while the warm and cool and cold data layers diminish to insignificance, and the frozen data layer grows to [about] 70% of the total—there will be no fine distinctions, either the data is hot, or it’s not.” This raises the question about data sustainability costs.


The report notes; “For data retention over years or decades or centuries, not only is initial cost/GB a critical concern, power and space and technology refresh requirements will play a far more decisive role in strategic plans for future data centers. It is obvious that huge numbers of HDDs and a significant number of SSDs are managing far too many of the cold/frozen workloads at far too great a cost/GB while consuming an inordinate share of available energy.”

This is one of several reasons why tape storage is a significant variable in the storage stratagem.  As the paper explains, “The active installed base of tape will consume only [about] 18 megawatts of power from 2020 through 2025, a staggering 838 times less than the active installed base of enterprise HDDs and SSDs.


Obtaining sustainability objectives has become a high priority for organizations. The report specifies that, “The need for ultra-low-cost, sustainable storage alternatives to manage the cold/frozen data layers is blindingly blatant. There are already a multitude of CO2 emission compliance regulations in place throughout the world (with much stricter regulations in Europe) and growing scarcities of total available energy in myriad locales. Many data center managers may soon be forced to use tape as a low-power storage solution.”

Of course, this is not to say that flash and disk-based storage systems will not have a role to play in the management and preservation of so-called ‘frozen’ data. For certain use cases or workloads, faster or random access to data may be imperative. It’s unlikely, however, that this criteria will apply to the majority of long term digital archives, which makes it difficult to see past the conclusion that whatever the future of data storage may hold, a significant role for LTO technology is likely to be part of the reckoning!


There is much more to learn from the Furthur Market Research report which sums up the findings expressing that, “There will be an increasingly immense hunger for the least expensive ASPs/GB combined with the greatest available capacities and lowest long-term costs, and successive generations of tape should play an increasingly crucial role here.”

Low cost, sustainable and reliable data protection describes LTO technology perfectly for data centers, both now and in the future. You can see the plans for upcoming generations of LTO technology here.