For years, disk backup vendors have thrown FUD at tape-based backup solutions and tape media itself. Even many from the analyst community concurred and prematurely declared “Tape is dead”. However, the truth is far from it. Approximately 5 million LTO drives and more than 280 million LTO tape cartridges have been shipped since the format’s inception and the amount of data being stored on tape continues to grow.
The Cloud Changes Everything
The latest innovations in cloud storage have enabled a new era for backup, recovery and archiving. There are now new ‘cool’ and ‘cold’ tiers of storage being offered by leading cloud providers including AWS and Azure. Though some of the back end technologies being used are not externally disclosed, it is generally agreed upon that they are a perfect use case for long-term data archival, traditionally being served by tape media. It is anybody’s guess what that back end media needs to be for the cloud provider in the long term to achieve those cost economics. After all, it’s tape media which wins the storage economics hands down.
Tape Media vs Tape Format
We at CloudLanes believe that the jury is out there about longevity of the tape media itself. However, the tape format has a compelling use case. LTFS based systems offer a unit of archival which no other storage unit offers. An archival atomic unit of storage in tape format also naturally lends itself to chain of custody tracking which is a huge additional benefit. A digitized archival unit now in tape format can now be managed with meta data around it which offers compelling value proposition as data can then be archived in the cloud, across clouds, managed and analyzed at scale.
Tape as a technology ain’t dead yet. It’s just getting better with age.
Vijay Ramaswamy @ The CloudLanes Team
Would appreciate your thoughts on cloud, archiving, and tape technologies.