Data Storage Tape Update V2014, It’s Still Alive
A year or so ago I did a piece tape summit resources. Despite being declared dead for decades, and will probably stay being declared dead for years to come, magnetic tape is in fact still alive being used by some organizations, granted its role is changing while the technology still evolves.
Here is the memo I received today from the PR folks of the Tape Storage Council (e.g. tape vendors marketing consortium) and for simplicity (mine), I’m posting it here for you to read in its entirety vs. possibly in pieces elsewhere. Note that this is basically a tape status and collection of marketing and press release talking points, however you can get an idea of the current messaging, who is using tape and technology updates.
Tape Data Storage in 2014 and looking towards 2015
True to the nature of magnetic tape as a data storage medium, this is not a low latency small post, rather a large high-capacity bulk post or perhaps all you need to know about tape for now, or until next year. Otoh, if you are a tape fan, you can certainly take the memo from the tape folks, as well as visit their site for more info.
From the tape storage council industry trade group:
Today the Tape Storage Council issued its annual memo to highlight the current trends, usages and technology innovations occurring within the tape storage industry. The Tape Storage Council includes representatives of BDT, Crossroads Systems, FUJIFILM, HP, IBM, Imation, Iron Mountain, Oracle, Overland Storage, Qualstar, Quantum, REB Storage Systems, Recall, Spectra Logic, Tandberg Data and XpresspaX.
Data Growth and Technology Innovations Fuel Tape’s Future
The Growth in Tape
Enterprise tape has reached an unprecedented 10 TB native capacity with data rates reaching 360 MB/sec. Enterprise tape libraries can scale beyond one exabyte. Enterprise tape manufacturers IBM and Oracle StorageTek have signaled future cartridge capacities far beyond 10 TBs with no limitations in sight. Open systems users can now store more than 300 Blu-ray quality movies with the LTO-6 2.5 TB cartridge. In the future, an LTO-10 cartridge will hold over 14,400 Blu-ray movies. Nearly 250 million LTO tape cartridges have been shipped since the format’s inception. This equals over 100,000 PB of data protected and retained using LTO Technology. The innovative active archive solution combining tape with low-cost NAS storage and LTFS is gaining momentum for open systems users.
Recent Announcements and Milestones
Significant Technology Innovations Fuel Tape’s Future
Reliability. Tape reliability levels have surpassed HDDs. Reliability levels for tape exceeds that of the most reliable disk drives by one to three orders of magnitude. The BER (Bit Error Rate – bits read per hard error) for enterprise tape is rated at 1×1019 and 1×1017 for LTO tape. This compares to 1×1016 for the most reliable enterprise Fibre Channel disk drive.
Capacity and Data Rate. LTO-6 cartridges provide 2.5 TB capacity and more than double the compressed capacity of the preceding LTO-5 drive with a 14% data rate performance boost to 160 MB/sec. Enterprise tape has reached 8.5 TB native capacity and 252 MB/sec on the Oracle StorageTek T10000D and 10 TB native capacity and 360 MB/sec on the IBM TS1150. Tape cartridge capacities are expected to grow at unprecedented rates for the foreseeable future.
Media Life. Manufacturers specifications indicate that enterprise and LTO tape media has a life span of 30 years or more while the average tape drive will be deployed 7 to 10 years before replacement. By comparison, the average disk drive is operational 3 to 5 years before replacement.
LTFS Changes Rules for Tape Access. Compared to previous proprietary solutions, LTFS is an open tape format that stores files in application-independent, self-describing fashion, enabling the simple interchange of content across multiple platforms and workflows. LTFS is also being deployed in several innovative “Tape as NAS” active archive solutions that combine the cost benefits of tape with the ease of use and fast access times of NAS. The SNIA LTFS Technical Working Group has been formed to broaden cross–industry collaboration and continued technical development of the LTFS specification.
TCOStudies. Tape’s widening cost advantage compared to other storage mediums makes it the most cost-effective technology for long-term data retention. The favorable economics (TCO, low energy consumption, reduced raised floor) and massive scalability have made tape the preferred medium for managing vast volumes of data. Several tape TCO studies are publicly available and the results consistently confirm a significant TCO advantage for tape compared to disk solutions.
According to the Brad Johns Consulting Group, a TCO study for an LTFS-based ‘Tape as NAS’ solution totaled $1.1M compared with $7.0M for a disk-based unified storage solution. This equates to a savings of over $5.9M over a 10-year period, which is more than 84 percent less than the equivalent amount for a storage system built on a 4 TB hard disk drive unified storage system. From a slightly different perspective, this is a TCO savings of over $2,900/TB of data. Source: Johns, B. “A New Approach to Lowering the Cost of Storing File Archive Information,”.
Another comprehensive TCO study by ESG (Enterprise Strategies Group) comparing an LTO-5 tape library system with a low-cost SATA disk system for backup using de-duplication (best case for disk) shows that disk deduplication has a 2-4x higher TCO than the tape system for backup over a 5 year period. The study revealed that disk has a TCO of 15x higher than tape for long-term data archiving.
Select Case Studies Highlight Tape and Active Archive Solutions
Dream Works Animation a global Computer Graphic (CG) animation studio has implemented a reliable, cost-effective and scalable active archive solution to safeguard a 2 PB portfolio of finished movies and graphics, supporting a long-term asset preservation strategy. The studio’s comprehensive, tiered and converged active archive architecture, which spans software, disk and tape, saves the company time, money and reduces risk.
LA Kings of the NHL rely extensively on digital video assets for marketing activities with team partners and for its broadcast affiliation with Fox Sports. Today, the Kings save about 200 GB of video per game for an 82 game regular season and are on pace to generate about 32-35 TB of new data per season. The King’s chose to implement Fujifilm’s Dternity NAS active archive appliance, an open LTFS based architecture. The Kings wanted an open source archiving solution which could outlast its original hardware while maintaining data integrity. Today with Dternity and LTFS, the Kings don’t have to decide what data to keep because they are able to cost-effectively save everything they might need in the future.
McDonald’s primary challenge was to create a digital video workflow that streamlines the management and distribution of their global video assets for their video production and post-production environment. McDonald’s implemented the Spectra T200 tape library with LTO-6 providing 250 TB of McDonald’s video production storage. Nightly, incremental backup jobs store their media assets into separate disk and LTO- 6 storage pools for easy backup, tracking and fast retrieval. This system design allows McDonald’s to effectively separate and manage their assets through the use of customized automation and data service policies.
NCSA employs an Active Archive solution providing 100 percent of the nearline storage for the NCSA Blue Waters supercomputer, which is one of the world’s largest active file repositories stored on high capacity, highly reliable enterprise tape media. Using an active archive system along with enterprise tape and RAIT (Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Tape) eliminates the need to duplicate tape data, which has led to dramatic cost savings.
Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) is a leading center for neuroscience research. QBI’s research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate brain function to help develop new treatments for neurological and mental disorders. QBI’s storage system has to scale extensively to store, protect, and access tens of terabytes of data daily to support cutting-edge research. QBI choose an Oracle solution consisting of Oracle’s StorageTek SL3000 modular tape libraries with StorageTek T10000 enterprise tape drives. The Oracle solution improved QBI’s ability to grow, attract world-leading scientists and meet stringent funding conditions.
Looking Ahead to 2015 and Beyond
Visit the Tape Storage Council at tapestorage.org
What this means and summary
Like it not tape is still alive being used along with the technology evolving with new enhancements as outlined above.
Good to see the tape folks doing some marketing to get their story told and heard for those who are still interested.
Does that mean I still use tape?
Nope, I stopped using tape for local backups and archives well over a decade ago using disk to disk and disk to cloud.
Does that mean I believe that tape is dead?
Nope, I still believe that for some organizations and some usage scenarios it makes good sense, however like with most data storage related technologies, it’s not a one size or type of technology fits everything scenario value proposition.
On a related note for cloud and object storage, visit www.objectstoragecenter.com
Ok, nuff said, for now…
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