The Value of Tape in the era of Hybrid IT
We live in a digital civilisation that can bring together ideas and people anywhere on earth. And sharing knowledge - data - is at the very heart of this new digital world.
The Internet of Things and tape
There are countless statistics about the scale of how rapidly data is growing, but one that caught my eye was from a Gartner report projecting 20 billion Internet of Things devices by 2020. It's this relentless expansion of connectedness that ensures HPE LTO tape will continue to have a critical role to play in helping to underpin our digital world, just as it has for the past two decades: HPE has shipped one LTO tape every six seconds since 2000. Tape is the ideal low cost, secure and stable storage medium society will need for archive data.
Tape innovation for the future
But why tape and not some other solution? Firstly, tape is a technology that is more than capable of matching the relentless growth of unstructured data. The latest LTO roadmap will extend the total capacity of data held on one LTO-12 tape cartridge to 480 TB with 2.5x compression - an increase of 32 times the compressed capacity of LTO-7 cartridges. This is vastly superior to the areal density scaling rate of hard disk drives (HDD). Over the next ten years, the INSIC forecasts the capacity growth of HDDs to be about 16% CAGR and tape to be 33% CAGR. This means the current cost advantage of tape systems over hard disk storage will grow even wider in the future. The INSIC roadmap also projects that tape will be five times faster than HDD drives by 2025.
Tape's compelling TCO
LTO tape also has compelling cost of ownership benefits compared to all-disk storage solutions. A brand new report from analysts ESG demonstrates that an organisation with an initial 1,000 TB of retained data, growing at a conservative rate of 10% annually, can achieve savings and benefits totalling more than $13.5M over a ten-year period when compared with an all-disk solution. This is 86% lower in TCO terms than the all-disk solution.
No hidden costs or charges with tape
Tape also offers advantages over other solutions that are sometimes positioned as a direct replacement. The economics of tape are compelling when comparing the financials of using LTO with a typical cloud service provider (CSP). Putting the data into the cloud may be inexpensive, but what about getting it out again? Based on a survey conducted by Solutions North Consulting, an average of 10-15% of archived, long term retention of secondary copy data is retrieved monthly by users or administrators. Yet the tiered pricing models typically used by CSPs mean that the costs of retrieving data from the cloud can soon dwarf the cost of the storage. An online tool published by the LTO Technology Provider companies (HPE, IBM and Quantum) allows users to truly compare the long term retention solutions available when using cloud or tape for archiving their data over a period of up to 12 years.
Tape is more secure against ransomware
Finally, and very importantly, there is the question of security. According to the FBI, ransomware payments reached more than $1 billion in 2016, having totalled a mere $24 million the year before. One recent report, estimates that ransomware makes up 60% of malware payloads, and more than 70% of companies targeted by ransomware attacks have been infected. The question is not so much if you are a victim of ransomware, as opposed to how well you can cope when it happens. LTO tape is a supreme last line of defence against intrusion because it creates an airgap. Data cartridges are typically kept offline and disconnected from the rest of the network. Malware cannot infect what it cannot see.
Tape technology has a bright future and HPE continues to regard LTO as a key part of its storage strategy, for reasons summarised by analysts, IDC, in their recent report on optimising data protection costs.
“Tape has specific strengths that match well to specific data threats at price points far lower than comparable methods. LTO tape has become the open system standard for commercial applications, is supported by numerous vendors, has recognized industry standard technology, and has a published road map for the next four generations. Tape, specifically LTO technology, remains as the last line of defense against malicious software and still plays an important part of any comprehensive data protection strategy.”