Dr. Mark Lantz, Manager, Exploratory Tape, IBM Research with his world record breaking tape demo. (Credit: IBM)
With the development of new storage technologies, often more efficient and practical, many companies believe that tape is dead!
The basic thinking is usually that disk storage is much faster, that in the case of cloud it enables greater reliability, and therefore, tape should be shelved because other technologies have more advantages.
Think again! Tape technology is still valid and undergoing significant advancements. For example, the industry has just launched the 7th generation technology Linear Tape-Open (LTO-7), still as reliable with its security features, but more importantly, its storage and processing capacity.
Although it should not be considered as a lone backup storage solution to meet the 3-2-1 rule (in fact, no technology should!), tape storage has benefits that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Benefit #1: Tapes can store a large amount of data inexpensively
Companies are producing and saving a volume of data that is constantly increasing and are having to store this data for a longer period of time, often for compliance reasons.
It is the primary interest in tape storage, which is less expensive than other technologies, and allows storing a huge amount of data over a very long period of time.
Benefit #2: Tape offers unparalleled portability
Tape backup is ideal for outsourcing and routing data to another physical location at little cost. The housings are designed to be transported; they are resistant to shocks and to condensation that can be caused by changes in temperatures during transfer.
Even external hard drives are designed to be secured in a bay. It is important to avoid their unnecessary transportation, especially since they are very sensitive to vibration.
Benefit #3: Tape storage protects data
In some industries, such as the financial or insurance sectors, companies must comply with strict regulations concerning the safety of their data and be able to prove that it has not been altered. Tape technology offers the WORM (write-once-read-many) function, which renders all data unalterable.
LTO tapes also have several mechanisms of protection against themselves. A bit like the raid principle on disks, if part of the tape is damaged, data will be available elsewhere on the tape and the damaged part can be reconstructed automatically.
Important factors related to tape storage
Disk storage and storage in the cloud each have their own advantages, which must be taken into consideration.
First, the recovery time of disk storage is extremely faster. For this reason, it may be better to backup critical data - mail server, telephony, payroll system, security cameras, ERP - on disk, so it can be quickly restored in case of failure. In the event of an incident that makes access to the above services impossible, direct costs and losses accumulate rapidly for a business.
Second, data stored in the cloud is highly available almost anytime and anywhere in the world, depending on the supplier. However, as the recovery time from the cloud can be very long (in some cases, 10x greater than tape storage) as it is directly impacted by the bandwidth, it is best to save large and/or critical data in other ways for easier recovery.
What you must remember
As in life where everything is not black or white ... the same goes for data storage! Each storage solution has its advantages and disadvantages. It is therefore necessary to define your business requirements and make the best choice based on your needs. Most of the time, the right choice will entail a mix of tape, disk and cloud storage.
Photo credit: IBM