Take control of your storage media costs with HPE LTO Ultrium

Take control of your storage media costs with HPE LTO Ultrium

Earlier in the month, we shone the spotlight on HPE LTO Ultrium storage media and the Green Tape Tests that help to ensure HPE data cartridges are the most reliable archival media available.

Quite a few people commented that they had not seen this information presented in this way before. But some also asked if I could explain a little bit more about what this kind of testing means for day-to-day tape usage and reliability overall.

So why does HPE invest so much money in Green Tape Tests and the rest of HPE’s Extreme Testing for storage media?

It’s because improved media reliability will substantially reduce the cost of your backup and archiving strategy.

Look at the two charts below. They show the capacity obtained from HPE LTO-7 media versus that of a leading competitor brand using brand new ‘green tape’ cartridges. Over 1,000 cycles, the HPE media delivered approximately 6 TB of native capacity for each full backup, exactly per the LTO-7 specification. With the non-HPE media, it was a different story. One test terminated at 500 cycles and the second at 250 cycles due to sustained capacity loss, well below 6 TB.

The importance of error rate

The reason why the capacity reduces is because of high error rate. When a tape is unreliable, one indicator of this is that the drive needs to make multiple attempts to successfully write a block or blocks of data. Each retry uses a little bit more tape which is obviously a finite resource inside each cartridge. In the end, multiple retries caused by errors limits the amount of tape available for storing new data and reduces the capacity of the cartridge overall.

In the chart above, you can see a consistent loss of capacity of between 15-20%. Now consider that some of HPE’s Enterprise customers use over 200,000 cartridges per year. Can you imagine the cost of an additional 30,000 cartridges to recover 15% of lost storage potential. On that kind of scale, the cost of lost capacity runs into millions.

But even in small and midsized organizations, the hidden cost of media reliability can be significant. And here’s another important point. In automated environments with many tapes in use, it may be difficult to assess the impact of poor media reliability. But just like low inflated tires can eat into the fuel economy and increase the costs of motoring, so does sub-standard quality affect your customers’ bottom line.

Real world examples

Let’s assume your data store is 600,000 GB. Depending on your data and compression ratio, you could need 400 LTO-5 tapes to store that amount of content.

A HPE LTO-5 tape costs $22 and Another Brand costs $20. In total, 500 tapes from HPE will cost $8,800 versus $8,000 for the competitor.

But if you are experiencing 15% capacity loss on the non-HPE tape, then instead of getting 600,000 GB, you are only achieving 510,000 - a shortfall of 90,000 GB.

That means you need an additional 60 data cartridges, costing an additional $1,200, to archive all your data.

So now, the less reliable non-HPE media has cost you over $400 more than HPE, even though it’s ticket price is $2 per tape cheaper.

And this is even before we factor in the additional IT cost of having to source, buy and handle the additional tapes, to say nothing of the potential disruption to data center activities. Myriad studies abound on the incredible cost of data center downtime. Whilst we are not talking about lost data per se here, anything that takes IT staff away from more demanding, value-added tasks on mission-critical systems is bound to have a much higher cost than just the $400 of media savings. I found some statistics calculating the cost of IT productivity during an unplanned data center outage as being $42,000. For corporate customers, this is not a trivial consideration!


In conclusion, therefore, poor capacity and transfer metrics have real life consequences. Reduced capacity means more tapes are needed to backup the same amount of data. That means more cost. Slower transfer speeds mean longer backups or backup windows being exceeded or breached, pulling in valuable IT resource to fix the issues. Again, the additional unnecessary cost can be significant and easily overturn any benefits from choosing a cheaper tape.

That’s why HPE LTO Ultrium media is tested to extremes. Why put your trust in anything else?

Andrew Dodd

Andrew Dodd  Andrew Dodd

Worldwide Marcom Manager

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