Tape Reaches New Markets as Innovations Accelerate

Tape Reaches New Markets as Innovations Accelerate
Dec. 17th, 2015. The Tape Storage Council, which includes representatives of BDT, Crossroads Systems,
FUJIFILM, Frontier BV, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Iron Mountain, Oracle, NCE Computer Group,
Overland Storage, Qualstar, Quantum, REB Storage Systems, Recall, Spectra Logic, Tandberg Data, Turtle
and XpresspaX has issued the following memo to highlight the current trends, usages and technology
innovations occurring within the tape storage industry.
Tape Reaches New Markets as Innovations Accelerate
Tape’s Continued Innovations Fuels New Markets and Use Cases
The tape industry continues to gain significant momentum as tape has firmly established its long-term role for
effectively managing extreme data growth with new use cases. Both LTO (Linear Tape Open) and enterprise
tape products continue to deliver unprecedented storage capacities per cartridge with the lowest total cost
of ownership compared with all other existing storage solutions. Steady developments have made tape
technology the most reliable storage medium available, now surpassing HDDs by three orders of magnitude
in data reliability. As a result, tape is well positioned to effectively address many data intensive industries
including cloud, entertainment, the internet, and high performance computing along with data intensive
applications such as big data, backup, recovery, archive, disaster recovery and compliance. Disk technology
has been advancing, but tape’s progress over the last ten years has been even greater. Tape is now the most
dynamic and sexy storage product on the market. If you don’t believe it - just read on.
The Growth in Digital Data Drives Tape Demand
Demand for tape is being fueled by unrelenting data growth, significant technological advancements, tape’s
highly favorable economics, and the growing regulatory and business requirements to maintain access to data
“forever.” Tape continues to play a major role for backup and disaster recovery (see Google Gmail Outage
demonstrates the importance of tape backups) in addition to effectively addressing many new large-scale
storage requirements. Nasuni Corp predicts ~2.5 EB’s (exabyte 1x1018) of data are created each day and by
2020, we will see a 4,300 percent increase in annual digital data generation. The access frequency and longterm retention requirements of large portions of this data heavily favors tape as the most cost-effective
storage solution. 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. IDC indicates that Cloud IT infrastructure growth outpaces the growth of the
overall IT infrastructure market and has grown by 25 percent in the past year.
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. Enterprise tape drive manufacturers IBM and Oracle StorageTek have signaled future cartridge
capacities far beyond 10 TBs with no limitations in sight. When using the new LTO-7 format, open systems
users can now store 240 Blu-ray quality movies on a single 6.0 TB native cartridge. The LTO roadmap has been
extended to LTO-10 which specifies a 48 TB native capacity or 8x more capacity than LTO-7. In the future, an
LTO-10 cartridge will hold as many as 1,920 Blu-ray movies.
Approximately 5 million LTO drives and
more than 280 million LTO tape
cartridges have been shipped since the
format’s inception. As shown in the chart
to the right, this totals over 100 EB of
data protected using LTO technology and
equates to more than 100 million miles
of LTO tape media, exceeding the
distance from the earth to the sun!
Source: The LTO Program Technology Provider Companies (TPCs)
Key Announcements and Milestones - 2015
Tape storage is addressing many new applications in today’s modern data centers while offering welcome
relief from relentless IT budget pressures. Key announcements and milestones were reached in the past year
and include:
March 9, 2015 The LTO® Program announced price per gigabyte is now less than one penny and that
LTO-6 tape has reached another cost-per-gigabyte milestone of below a cent. LTO storage can be as
low as 0.8 cents per gigabyte or $8 per terabyte.
April 9, 2015 Fujifilm Recording Media USA announced that in conjunction with IBM a new record in
areal data density of 123 billion bits per square inch on linear magnetic particulate tape had been
achieved. This density breakthrough equates to a standard LTO cartridge capable of storing up to 220
TB of uncompressed data, more than 88 times the storage capacity of the current LTO -6 tape. A tape
of this size can preserve the human genome of 220 people on a single cartridge and is the highest
capacity storage media ever announced, including HDD, Blu-ray disc and solid memory NAND flash.
This marks the fourth time in less than 10 years that Fujifilm and IBM have combined to achieve
record-breaking storage capacities on tape.
April, 28 2015 IBM was assigned several tape patents. These patents represent significant innovations
and improvements for high performance tape access and advanced reliability capabilities. Selected
tape patents are listed below.
For complete details see: http://www.latestpatents.com/ibm-patents-granted-on-28-april-2015/
# (9,021,175) Reordering Access to Reduce Total Seek Time on Tape Media
# (9,021,196) Writing Multiple Files Simultaneously to Tape
# (9,060,414) Solid State Storage Media Cartridge
# (9,019,653) High Density Timing Based Servo Format for use with Tilted Transducer Arrays
# (9,019,654) Data Storage Tape with Random Access Data
# (9,007,709) Optimum Tape Layout Selection for Improved Error Correction Capability
# (9,013,827) Coarse Actuator Positioning Algorithm
# (9,047,879) High Performance Cartridge Format
September 14, 2015 The LTO Program Technology Provider Companies, HP, IBM and Quantum,
announced that the LTO Ultrium format generation 7 specifications are available for licensing by
storage mechanism and media manufacturers. The new LTO-7 specifications more than double the
LTO-6 native tape cartridge capacity from 2.5 TB to 6.0 TB, yielding capacities of up to 15 TB per
cartridge when compressed at 2.5:1. Large files will also transfer more quickly with 300 MB/sec native
drive data transfer rates, which translates up to 2.7 terabytes of data an hour per drive at 2.5:1
compression. The standard reliability measure for storage devices, Bit Error Rate (BER) – or bits read
per hard error, has been increased two orders of magnitude to 1x1019 bits read per hard error with
Significant Technology Innovations Fuel Tape’s Future
Continued development and manufacturing investment in tape library, drive, media and management
software has effectively addressed the constant demand for improved reliability, higher capacity, power
efficiency, ease of use and the lowest cost per GB and TCO of any storage solution. Below is a summary of
tape’s value proposition followed by key metrics for each:
• Tape drive reliability has surpassed disk drive reliability
• Tape cartridge capacity (native) and data rate growth is on an unprecedented trajectory
• Tape has a much longer media life than any other digital storage medium
• Tape requires significantly less energy consumption than any other digital storage technology
• Tape storage has a much lower acquisition cost and TCO than disk
• Tape’s functionality and ease of use is now greatly enhanced with LTFS software
Reliability. Reliability levels for tape are quickly improving and now exceed that of the most reliable disk drives
by one to three orders of magnitude. The BER for both enterprise tape and LTO-7 tape is rated at 1x1019,
making the top rated tapes 1,000 times more reliable than the top rated HDDs at 1x1016. By comparison 1019 or
10 quintillion (a billion billion) is the number of millimeters from here to the next closest star. The odds of a
meteor landing on your house is one in 182 trillion (a million million) and the odds of winning Powerball are 1
in 292 million. In any case, these are huge numbers and the BER for tape is impressive; expect tape to achieve
even higher levels of reliability going forward.
Capacity and Data Rate. LTO-7 cartridges have 6.0 TB native capacity, more than double the native capacity
of the LTO-6 cartridge, and offer an impressive 87.5% native data rate performance boost to 300 MB/sec.
Enterprise tape has reached 8.5 TB native capacity and 252 MB/sec on the Oracle StorageTek T10000D and
10 TB native capacity and 360 MB/sec on the IBM TS1150. Tape cartridge capacities and data transfer speeds
are expected to grow at unprecedented rates for the foreseeable future with no fundamental technology
limitations in sight.
Media Life. Manufacturer’s specifications indicate that today’s enterprise and LTO tape media has a life span
of 30 years or more while a tape drive is typically deployed 7 to 10 years before replacement. By comparison,
a typical disk drive is typically operational from 3 to 5 years before replacement.
TCO Studies. Tape’s wide and sustainable $/GB and TCO advantage compared with other storage mediums
makes it the most cost-effective technology for long-term data retention. Several tape TCO studies are publicly
available and the results consistently confirm a significant TCO advantage for tape compared with disk
solutions for backup and archive applications. The studies show the TCO for HDDs typically range up 15x times
higher than the equivalent capacity tape systems, while HDD energy costs typically range 20x or higher than
Software. LTFS (Linear Tape File System) now offers three freely available software solutions for file
management with the LTFS format: Single Drive Edition, Library Edition, and Enterprise Edition. As a testimony
to the growing use of LTFS, a total of 29 companies are now LTFS partners. In addition, SNIA's Linear Tape File
System (LTFS) Technical Work Group is focusing technical efforts on the development of an architecture that
is related to the “on-tape” format for LTFS. Several HSM (Hierarchical Storage Management) products that
migrate files and objects from the costliest storage devices to tape are readily available. Expect RAIT
(Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Tape) to gain momentum in order to capitalize on tape’s superior data rates.
New Use Cases and Innovative Solutions Bring Tape into the Game
Active Archives. Tape’s favorable economics are fueling increased interest in Active Archive solutions. 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
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
Tape as NAS Emerges. The innovative Tape as NAS solution has 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 diskbased NAS. Examples include:
• Crossroads Strongbox
• Fujifilm Dternity
• HPE Storever Tape as NAS
• IBM Spectrum Archive
• Oracle HSM
• Qstar Archive Manager
• Quantum Scalar LTFS and Artico
• Spectra Logic BlackPearl
Storage Tiering Fully Embraces Tape. The increasingly popular tiered storage cost-reduction concept now
fully embraces the tape tier (Tier 3) and allows a system administrator to define policies for data migration
and retention to control the movement of petabytes of data and billions of files from more expensive Flash
and HDD storage devices to less-expensive tape and cloud storage. By using tape libraries instead of disks for
Tier 2 and Tier 3 storage, organizations can improve efficiency and significantly reduce costs.
Tape in the Cloud Arrives. Tape is playing multiple roles in the explosive cloud data growth and becoming a
key component of future cloud storage solutions. Tape is an effective way to move quickly large amounts of
data to a cloud provider (or to seed the cloud). Instead of transferring large amounts of data across an Internet
WAN connection for days or weeks, it can be copied to tape and sent to the cloud provider via an overnight
truck. The same goes for Disaster Recovery. For large amounts of DR data, the cloud provider can send all
requested data on tape, instead of a WAN, enabling users to recover their data more quickly on premises.
Tape is playing a larger role in the cloud as cloud providers are using tape as part of their long-term storage
services offering to relieve the TCO pressure from using HDDs exclusively for lower activity and archival data.
Select Case Studies Highlight the Value of Tape and Active Archive Solutions. Several case studies listed
below demonstrate the many new and innovative use cases for tape technology:
• AZ Saint-Jan Brugge-Oostende – Gains virtually limitless storage scalability with next-generation
environment for archived medical data
• Barrett-Jackson – Cache is king for the world’s number one car auction brand
• Brain Farm – Safeguards business critical content for making high-quality visionary action, adventure
and lifestyle productions
• Calgary Police Service - Body camera video is stored on a highly scalable tiered storage solution
• EVRY – One of the largest IT companies in the Nordics builds a seismic data repository
• FedEx – Protects and stores training and instructional videos for more than 325,000 global team
• LIBR – The Laureate Institute for Brain Research manages massive expansion of brain imaging data
• The Whitehead Institute – Leading molecular biology and genetics research institute is a key
contributor to the 13-year Human Genome Project
• University of Colorado Boulder – Supports ground-breaking research with the pioneering PetaLibrary
Looking Ahead to 2016 and Beyond
The role tape serves in today’s modern data centers is expanding. 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 this promising trend to
continue in 2016 and beyond as more and more exabytes of data are stored on tape. The question “tape, so
what” has been answered and has become “tape, what’s next”? What lies ahead is exciting. Isn’t it about time
to take advantage of the many new tape innovations that make it so beneficial?
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