LTO-8 tape technology is insurance against disasters

Those who are satisfied with the absurdity that the implementation of a high-availability architecture is a substitute for the old-fashioned planning of a disaster recovery scenario, are today in the panade. The same is true for companies that have used cloud-based disaster recovery services that were actually managed by hosts located a few kilometers from their offices and, as a result, were same sinister.

The good news is that the technology to make reliable copies of data and bring them to an offsite remote storage in an affordable way exists. Of course, I’m talking about the band, and more specifically bands with the standard Linear Tape-Open. It is compatible with virtually any library, regardless of manufacturer, and continues to grow in performance, durability, longevity and capacity.

Some vendors are already pushing the LTO-8 generation, although LTO-7 has not finished its life yet, and the LTO-8 is not yet commercialized in high volume.

Some say that the LTO-8 is aimed at a niche market, that of very large companies and cloud manufacturers. Based on this reasoning, LTO-7 may be the last iteration for small to mid-size businesses, given its price of about $ 100 per 6 TB cartridge (15 TB compressed).

LTO-8 is not a niche market

The increased capacity of the LTO-8 tape drive, with a capacity of 12.8 TB native and 32 TB in compressed mode, and its data rate of 472 Mbps native capacity and 1180 Mbps compressed mode, can not than seduce. As for the argument that LTO-8 is targeting a “niche” market, let me disagree.

First of all, no more companies measure the storage of data in terabytes. Even SMEs manage dozens or even hundreds of terabytes of primary storage and some have even passed the bar of the petabyte. Large companies who previously complained that their storage was out of control while handling dozens of petabytes of data can now end up managing close to an exabyte. According to IDC, the volume of new data created each year should reach 163 Zettabytes by 2025.

The LTO-8, with its capacity of 32 TB, seems to be exactly the remedy that the doctor has prescribed for the companies most likely to use the magnetic tape technology: cloud manufacturers, large companies making extensive use of data such as pharmacy and health giants, monitoring companies, research labs or the petroleum industry all have plans to use tape in their secondary storage architectures.

The special role of the band

I know you’ve probably heard that the tape does not meet the needs of active archives. I wrote a column on this topic recently for this magazine Storage, and the answer is “maybe, maybe not”. But the truth is that most of the data we generate today is not intended to end up in a Big Data analysis process.

Cloud manufacturers, for example, want to sell “a large storage depot in the sky” to host all the data rarely accessed and never modified, that consumers create with the cameras of their phones or to host business archives. The tape is the ideal technology for virtually all of these services because of its low cost of storage.

It is also an effective way to deliver large amounts of data between businesses and the cloud when bandwidth is insufficient or the customer is not served by a fiber optic network. The tape is an ideal mechanism for data transport without WAN or metro network.

The LTO-8 seems to arrive at a fortuitous moment. We need its abundance and the security it could bring the next time a hurricane or other calamity strikes.

The key strength of the LTO-8 is related to what it can do to reduce the cost of storing zettabytes of data. A massive repository of multizettabyte tapes will probably cost less than the energy costs for a repository of the same capacity based on disk or flash. The commercialization of LTO-8 is a new milestone in terms of capacity and cost of data storage.

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