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Tape is in it for the long haul

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No slowdown for tape tech

Ongoing advances in tape technology have helped to enable new and expanding use cases for tape in a range of small to large enterprises. Density improvements with each new Linear Tape-Open (LTO) generation continue to make tape the most cost-effective storage medium on a dollars-per-gigabyte basis for a variety of applications. But beyond raw capacity cost, leading tape vendors such as IBM, Quantum and Spectra Logic are innovating on a number of other fronts, such as increasing tape reliability and durability, improving media lifecycle management and enabling more rapid data access. Suppliers are also enhancing power consumption and cooling technologies, making tape libraries more economical to operate than ever before.

Tape is proving its value in emerging applications such as cloud storage, “big data” and streaming media, and is being increasingly adopted for new use cases such as active archiving. Based on our research, we’re also seeing tape use spanning a variety of industries, including media and entertainment, aerospace, government, education and financial services.

So what’s driving organizations’ adoption of tape, and why is it a key technology in their long-term storage plans? Let’s see what some users have to say in response to these questions.

Use case: Active archiving

An aerospace engineering firm uses multiple tape libraries for active archiving, as well as backup and recovery. Its

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IT staff reports that their tape libraries offer distinct advantages over disk, including cost, density, reliability and availability. The firm also chose tape because of ongoing industry investments to advance tape technology.

IT deployed two tape libraries in the corporate data center. One of the libraries is primarily devoted to storing corporate backup. The other provides active archiving for the company’s high-performance computing (HPC) environment, which offloads data sets to tape from high-speed spinning disk.

The primary concern of IT is to shrink operating costs and reduce liability in a heavily regulated industry. The purchase price for two tape libraries wasn’t cheap, but tape media and the ability to scale and upgrade drives offered sizable economies of scale. Tape reliability and longevity answered concerns about long-term data retention.

There was some pushback from other areas of the company that preferred to adopt more disk instead of making new investments in tape. Once the other divisions understood tape’s advanced capabilities, the objections vanished.

This was first published in August 2012

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