In late December, the Tape Storage Council issued a memo on current and upcoming trends within the tape storage industry, including the release of new tape formats. The Council includes representatives from several significant storage and technology companies, including Iron Mountain.
The TSC’s assessment notes that backup tape is the most secure, reliable and cost effective backup method available on the market according to current storage trends. This is helpful for companies required to store terabytes of data for several years for regulation and compliance reasons.
Continued Tape Technology Investment
One of the key factors driving tape innovation is exponential data growth. It’s increasingly expensive to keep new data and older data on spinning disk or in the Cloud. The recently released LTO-7 tape format can hold up to 6 TBs of data, making it possible for some companies to back up their entire dataset to a single tape. This is helpful when a company is making a technology shift, such as moving to the Cloud. In this case, existing data can be stored on tape until its needed, fewer tapes are required to be managed, or the tape can be used to seed data into the cloud.
Tape storage also continues to be extremely durable, with a possible lifespan of up to 30 years. This makes it a cost effective way to store data that needs to be kept for at least 7 to 10 years. It also gives companies peace of mind that their data will not become corrupted.
The TSC is also keeping an eye on Active Archive solutions that offer a hybrid approach to storage tape, disk and cloud data. With an Active Archive, companies can add to their storage tier whatever solution they want to. For example, new and nearline data goes to the Cloud or spinning disk, and archive data sits on tape. This approach helps to keep storage costs down while still maintaining access Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Another emerging trend is the Tape as NAS (Network Attached Storage) solution. This solution integrates with an LTO library and provides direct file access to tape data on a NAS with either CIFS/NFS mounts. Data is written to NAS until the cache is full, and the NAS writes the data to tape; however, a user can still see all the data as if it were on a file system and retrieve it easily based on pre-set SLAs. This saves effort in trying to locate tapes in inventory offsite and then sort the data.
Tape is Backing Up the Cloud
The Cloud moves IT infrastructure from your company to your cloud provider and whether you realize it or not, that provider is probably using tape as a secondary backup method.
Your organization probably creates data in the Cloud, but as that data ages, it makes economic sense for your cloud provider to move inactive data to tape and make it available to you when you need it. Your active data is likely on spinning disk, so it can be accessed quickly in a disaster recovery situation.
Tape is also an effective way to seed data to the Cloud, especially large data sets, especially when you consider the time it would take to push terabytes of data over a WAN.
With all this in mind, Iron Mountain has several solutions to help you manage your data.
Offsite Tape Vaulting – We’ve been protecting our clients’ tapes for years and will continue to do so. Rely on our climate controlled vaults to protect your tapes for as many years as your retention policies require.
Restoration Services – If you’re transitioning from tape to a disk or cloud solution, let Iron Mountain keep your legacy backup tapes in storage and create a restoration program for you to retrieve archive data when you need it most.
Cloud Services – Our cloud services can help you backup your systems to the cloud or a disk solution as well as maintain business continuity during planned and unplanned service disruptions.
For more information about how tape has evolved over the years, download our infographic: The History of Tape.