by Peri Grover
This article marks the second in a two-part series examining the five ways in which storing data on tape can improve your organization’s bottom line. The first article detailed the first two reasons; this article explores the remaining three reasons. Click here to read the first article in this series.3. Tape has the Capacity and Speed to Handle Nonstop Data Growth and Requires Little to No Human Intervention
While tape is not often thought of as an industry-leader in terms of capacity and speed – when compared with its disk counterpart, nothing could be further from the truth. Consider that just 10 years ago, the average tape held only 40GB of data on a single cartridge and transferred data at just 6MB/second. Compare that to today’s LTO-5 technology that delivers up to 3TB per cartridge and transfers data at up to 1TB/hr. In some cases, businesses would need to stripe five hard disks to achieve the same performance in terms of throughput.
One of the most recent technology advances in tape storage is the implementation of Linear Tape File System (LTFS). This exciting new technology provides even faster access to files on tape by enabling tape to appear as a disk to the operating system and providing “drag & drop” functionality on a tape. LTFS makes tape self-describing, file-based and easy-to-use, providing users with the ability to use standard file operations on tape media to access, and manage and share files with an interface that behaves just like a disk.
It’s true that disk has a data access advantage because it is direct access as opposed to tape’s serial access; but if 90% of the data stored on disk is never accessed again, as research from the University of California Santa Cruz concludes, that data access advantage might not be as important. Because the data stored on tape is not accessed very often, data access time is less important than, say, the time it takes to write data to tape: the faster it’s written, the quicker it can be transported offsite and out of the IT administrator’s purview.
As data growth continues to expand exponentially, backups and data storage become even more complicated and difficult to manage. Tape offers businesses the advantage of automation, which enables them to allocate resources dynamically without creating additional management layers, improving the reliability of the entire process and eliminating administrative overhead. The advantages provided by automated backup and archive also mean that the data center manager can focus his/her resources on more mission critical applications – like keeping production and application servers up and running.
Automated tape storage solutions also allow web-based remote management that provides the convenience of managing the backup/archive process from anywhere in the world. Administrators can use this tool to configure backup procedures, initiate and manage backups, gain library/tape drive/media status information, receive alerts to potential problems with the backup and diagnose problems. This is an ideal scenario when your backup is offsite for disaster recovery purposes. Compare this to the effort performed by IT administrators who typically manage online disks that are stored in arrays in a data center; backups are performed manually and the movement and storage of data can be time and resource-intensive.
4. Tape Storage is Portable and Allows Businesses to Easily Move and Store Data Offsite
Whether driven by regulatory compliance or the general value of information, many businesses are required keep significant amounts of archive-tier data – often for extended periods of time. Even if businesses purchased SATA disks that could accommodate the magnitude of capacity required (which would likely be very expensive, comparatively), the data would still need to be stored offsite as part of a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plan. There’s just one problem: Disks aren’t designed to be moved around.
Conversely, data cartridges are ruggedized and designed to take a beating. They can be easily and affordably shipped all over the world, either for offsite storage or data sharing. Additionally, some automated tape library solutions feature removable cartridge magazines that provide simplified media handling for loading/unloading of cartridges and enable data to be easily moved and stored at offsite locations for increased data protection and disaster recovery.
5. Tape is Adaptable to Changing Business Demands and Data Center Technologies
Given that many businesses have unique IT infrastructures and varying computing needs, it’s usually important that storage solutions be flexible enough to easily integrate into the current environment, be simple to manage, and be able to accommodate evolving needs and data growth. The latest tape solutions allow the number of drives and media slots to be scaled independently. As a result, IT administrators can adapt to their ever-changing environments by dynamically tuning storage capacity and performance with a minimal amount of disruption while protecting their original tape library investment.
Tape libraries also provide the ability to partition a single library into smaller “virtual” libraries. This capability enables multi-tasking within the same library and allows businesses to configure a single library to interface with different backup servers, regardless of operating system or their connectivity type (SCSI, SAS, FC, etc.), providing superior investment protection and increased efficiency.
When it comes to supporting your business operations with a practical, reliable solution for long-term data storage, an automated tape library simply makes good sense: for archive-tier data, tape storage is the only viable solution that offers businesses the perfect blend of infinite data storage capacity, small footprint, cost-efficiency and portability. With the right strategy, businesses can leverage disk-based solutions for regularly accessed data and tape solutions for backup and archiving. The combined disk and tape solution will maximize effectiveness of data protection and data management over time. IT managers are realizing that the greater their company’s data growth and retention requirements, the greater the imperative to keep or incorporate tape. For most businesses, what makes sense is an IT environment that utilizes a blend of storage platforms and media – from disk-based to tape-based storage to cloud storage – ensuring that their short-term and long-terms storage goals are met in the most cost-effective, seamless manner possible.
Peri Grover is the director of product marketing at Overland Storage (San Diego, CA). www.overlandstorage.com