Tape Storage

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Did you Know? Flash, Tape, Object Storage; One world of tiered storage

By Shawn Brume posted Tue April 06, 2021 09:51 AM


The ascension of Hard Disk Drives (HDD) object storage has been a boom for storage managers.  From 2000 to 2010 File Systems were seeing serious stress as a result of data growth that exceeded the capability of file systems management for most infrastructures.  The object storage promise was that HDD would be the only storage required for data that was not transactional, the Active Archive was born.

"The amount of data created and replicated experienced unusually high growth in 2020 due to the dramatic increase in the number of people working, learning, and entertaining themselves from home. However, less than 2% of this new data was saved and retained into 2021 –the rest was either ephemeral (created or replicated primarily for the purpose of consumption) or temporarily cached and subsequently overwritten with newer data." - Storage Newsletter

Fast forward 10 years, unstructured data has continued to grow. Object Storage revenue has now exceeded File System revenue, and File Systems are alive and well holding more data.  The maturity of Object Storage has led to the realization that managing all data on HDD is not realistic.  Energy, cooling, and performance are all driving factors in the realization.  The “cure” appears to be Hierarchical Storage Management, that’s right HSM tiering of data is the cure for what is ailing the next generation of storage.  The target opportunity is next generation tape.

Tape is not in a resurgence; it is simply in the standard cycle of use case adoption.  As tape capacity continues to exceed the growth of retained data, the new use cases of data are driving new tape deployments.  In 2021, the new use cases are massive data storage behind object storage and data resiliency for the ultimate line of cyber security defense.  IBM Converged Archive Solution provides integrated Object and File storage with automated tiering support to tape.  Unstructured data seamlessly managed across a global or local infrastructure with low administration touch.


Isn’t tape going away?

 Tape is here to stay, possibly longer than HDD.  We should fully acknowledge that tape has exited small capacity markets, Server level backup and recovery (BaR) is no longer a viable market for tape. Consolidated infrastructure BaR is viable as is the growing unstructured data market, the latest adoption of tape includes datacenter edge storage for IoT devices. Over 64 Zettabytes of data are ephemerally discarded every year.  Yet tape has the capacity and streaming performance to retain all of that data!!

 In the 2021 IDC datasphere report <link to storage newsletter>, IDC indicates that globally, 6.4ZB of data is being retained in to 2021. Tape media is utilized for around 9 years, with some industries keeping tape media with data for up to 15 years.   This longevity makes the revenue picture of tape a little deceptive.  Tape is a very healthy industry, slow turnover of data on tape and the very low total cost of ownership (TCO) make it ideal for regulatory and data provenance.   No analysis will ever expose all the data stored on tape and retained in any given year, however, using the known capacity purchased in the last 7 years and situational data pertaining to longer term storage on older media, tape retains just over 1.2ZB of data.  This is expected to grow at up to 20% CAGR of yearly capacity through 2028.



 As data retention on tape continues to grow, the IT professionals adopting it will see significant benefits. Up to 100 times more tape can be managed per FTE than with HDDs. Data on tape is inherently durable with 11 -nines of durability in a single copy!* <footnote on insic values uplifted for TS1160> That means IT professionals can focus on growing the business not on managing storage infrastructure. According to tape storage professionals, they sleep better at night than their HDD counterparts.  I jest, of course.

 As the IT industry sees more pressure to store data longer, next generation opportunities will require massive storage.  Tape is becoming the logical storage medium.  If the largest storage infrastructures in the world trust tape, why wouldn’t the rest of us.


OVH announce https://www.datacentremagazine.com/it/ibm-and-ovh-cloud-partner-tape-storage-service

Open Compute.org sub project https://www.opencompute.org/wiki/Storage/Archival_Storage_Subgroup

CERN http://i.crn.com/sites/default/files/ckfinderimages/userfiles/images/crn/custom/2021/FujiFilm_CloseUp_Q1_2021_Horison_Tape-New-Game_2020.pdf


*INSIC data calculations for durability as calculated to next generation LTO-9 tape specification