Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

The Expanding Role of Tape in Today's Modern Data Center

Clearly the innovation, compelling value proposition and new development activities demonstrate tape technology is not sitting still.

Industry Perspectives

March 30, 2016

4 Min Read
The Expanding Role of Tape in Today's Modern Data Center


Rich Gadomski is VP of Marketing at Fujifilm Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much data we are creating? And even more thought provoking than that – how can we continue to store that data for the long term, reliably and cost effectively? These are important questions IT executives are asking themselves today. According to a recent report from the Tape Storage Council, Tape Reaches New Markets as Innovations Accelerate, today’s advanced, modern data tape provides the answers.

Demand for tape is being fueled by unrelenting data growth, significant technological advancements, its highly favorable economics, and the growing regulatory and business requirements to maintain access to data “forever.” Tape continues to play a major role in backup and disaster recovery in addition to effectively addressing many new large-scale storage requirements including cloud storage. Many major cloud providers are quickly realizing the value for implementing tape in their cloud infrastructure as the amount of data is escalating and storing less active data exclusively on HDDs becomes increasingly cost prohibitive.

In addition, tape storage is addressing many new applications in today’s modern data centers while offering relief from relentless IT budget pressures at the same time. Continued development and manufacturing investment in tape library, drive, media and management software has effectively addressed the constant demand for improved reliability, higher capacity and power efficiency.

Enterprise tape has reached an unprecedented 10 TB native capacity per cartridge with native data rates reaching 360 MB/sec. Enterprise tape libraries can scale beyond one exabyte as exascale storage solutions have arrived.

Another breakthrough in areal data density of 123 billion bits per square inch on data tape utilizing magnetic particle technology. This density breakthrough equates to a standard LTO cartridge capable of storing up to 220 TB of uncompressed data, more than 36 times the storage capacity of the current LTO-7 tape. A tape of this size is the highest capacity storage media ever announced.

Tape’s favorable economics are fueling increased interest in active archive solutions as well. An active archive provides a persistent online view of archival data using one or more archive technologies (tape, HDDs, and cloud storage) behind a file system. Active archive data can typically be shared using NAS and standard Windows or Linux file sharing protocols (CIFS / NFS) to easily store, search and retrieve data directly from the archive. The benefits of an active archive intelligent data management framework include:

  • Scalability: Effortlessly add capacity and scale to petabytes of storage.

  • Lower Cost: Reduce TCO by matching media type to SLA requirements and optimizing storage infrastructure.

  • Ease of Use: File-level access to all of your data, all the time.

  • Compliance: Achieve regulatory retention requirements and reduce risk of non-compliance and data loss.

The innovative Tape as NAS solution has also gained traction and provides direct file access capability for data tape and integrates an LTO tape library with a front-end NAS for standard NAS (CIFS/NFS) mounts and LTFS to deliver the newest archive architecture. Data arrives at the NAS disk cache and is written to tape, files remain on disk cache until the cache is full, at which time the oldest files are reduced to metadata pointers only. File searches continue to see all files archived and only when a read request is received are files moved back from tape to disk cache and on to the user. A tape library as a NAS enables users to leverage familiar file system tools, and even drag and drop files directly to and from a tape cartridge, just like a disk-based NAS.

IT executives and cloud service providers are addressing new applications that leverage tape for its significant operational and economic advantages. This recognition is driving continued investment in new tape technologies with extended roadmaps, innovations and exciting use cases. It is also expanding tape’s profile from its historical role in data backup to one requiring cost-effective access to enormous quantities of stored data. With the exciting trajectory for future tape technology, many data intensive industries and applications already have or will begin to leverage the significant benefits of tape’s continued progress.

Clearly the innovation, compelling value proposition and new development activities demonstrate tape technology is not sitting still; expect the role of tape to continue to expand as more and more exabytes of data are stored on tape.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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