While many companies made the choice to move away from tape backup the relentless development of tape technology and tape data storage combined with ever increasing data storage demands on business are forcing a re-think. George Crump, president of Storage Switzerland, is seeing a lot of reintroductions of tape in a lot of facilities. According to Crump, "In the past, LTO and other tape formats were clumsy, slow and difficult to deal with. Now, with LTFS [Linear Tape file System], it's as easy to interact with tape as it is with any other storage device," Crump said. "It has immediate application when data transfer volumes are high and bandwidth is low. But it also has broader implications on backup and archive processes, and potentially on the way databases and file systems access data."
Because of this, tape can be one of the best options for fixing an unstructured data backup problem. "It's inexpensive per GB, fast and can require little to no operational cost to store for a long period of time," according to Crump. "The ideal solution would be to merge tape into a NAS-based platform so that protection becomes an integrated part of unstructured data storage."
John Toigo, chairman of the Data Management Institute, agrees stating “Tape is much less expensive to own than disk or flash and perfect for the huge quantities of data that are rarely if ever re-referenced or changed. Moreover, LTFS is providing a painless way to grow the capacity of a NAS head "invisibly" to users by simply spanning the onboard disk and flash kit to a back-end tape library for seamless file directory listings and file retrievals from either the disk pool or the back-end tape.
Products such as LTFStor combine a disk front end to a tape library which then presents itself on the network as a typical network share. Utilising the LTFS (Linear Tape File System) open format ensures retrieval of this data is not reliant on a proprietary system that might not be readily available in 5, 10, 20 years from now. As the data is primarily stored on tape LTFStor manages the disk front end as a cache or buffer. Essentially data is automatically copied to tape in a near continuous process. This supports the speed of access and presents the tape library to the user as a standard file system by users or applications.
This article from TechTarget includes a video from "Beyond Backup," where Crump discussed why organizations are still employing a tape backup system and some considerations for using one.
Have you embraced the advantages of tape?