By Guest Blogger, Dr. Shawn O. Brume Sc. D., IBM Tape Evangelist and Strategist
According to a study by McKinsey, the average lifespan of companies listed in Standard & Poor’s is less than 18 years! That means that tape technology is already in business almost 4 times longer than the average S&P will survive. Tape technology celebrated 70 years young on May 21st. Tape has been and continues to be the most transforming data storage technology in history.
In the 50’s it was the only viable technology for storing data generated by the few computers in existence. In the 60’s tape took the world to the moon and preserved the data for usage nearly 40 years later when it was retrieved to assist in modern space explorations. By the 70’s Tape was dominating storage, transforming the financial industry by providing the ability to access data on accounts with minimal human intervention. The 80’s and 90’s continued the transformation of data availability by performing transactional data storage for ATMs, but also was key in the investigation of the space shuttle Challenger disaster; an investigation enhanced as a result of the durability of tape even when submerged in saltwater.
Today tape lives in the data center, preserving Zettabytes of data. Data being preserved and utilized across nearly every industry, examples:
Healthcare – Data preserved on tape is being utilized to develop new predictive health services. Digital medical records can be retained for the life of patients and shared across organizations.
Financial – Online transaction retention ensures customers valuable financial data is protected in the eventuality of a cyber-attack. Mortgage loans are preserved without fear of tampering.
Cloud – Data stored in public clouds are growing at a 30% faster rate than traditional storage. Cloud providers rely on tape to provide data durability and low-cost storage subscriptions.
Tape’s popularity has often been driven by the low cost of storage, modern data storage requires so much more including cyber-resiliency, data durability and low carbon footprints that enable sustainable IT.
Cyber Resiliency – Tape is the only true airgap data storage solution available.
Data Durability – Tape has a native single copy durability of 11- Nines. This means the likelihood of a single bit failure is 1 in 100 Petabytes.
Sustainability – At scale tape technology is 96% lower carbon footprint than highly dense HDD storage (when comparing OCP Bryce canyon and IBM tape technology with 27PB of data).
If preserving data, in a cyber-resilient solution, at low cost, with relatively low carbon impact meets your business outcomes, then why wait? Clearly tape is here to stay and surging in usage across nearly every business use case.
Happy 70-years to an amazing technology!
For more information about technology since tape’s introduction, check out this post from my colleague Mike Doran.
The Tape Storage Council, (TSC), released a new report “Tape to Play Critical Roles as the Zettabyte Era Takes Off,” which highlights the current trends, usages and technology innovations occurring within the tape storage industry. The zettabyte era is in full swing generating unprecedented capacity demand as many businesses move closer to Exascale storage requirements.
According to the LTO Program, 148 Exabytes (EB) of total tape capacity (compressed) shipped in 2021, marking an impressive record year. With a growth rate of 40%, this strong performance in shipments continues following the previous record-breaking 110 EB capacity shipped in 2019 and 105 EB of capacity shipped in the pandemic affected year of 2020.
The ever-increasing thirst for IT services has pushed energy usage, carbon emissions, and reducing the storage industry’s growing impact on global climate change to center stage. Plus, ransomware and cybercrime protection requirements are driving increased focus on air gap protection measures.
As a result of these trends, among others, the TSC expects tape to play an even broader role in the IT ecosystem going forward as the number of exabyte-sized environments grow. Key trends include:
Data-intensive applications and workflows fuel new tape growth.
Data accessibility. Tape performance improves access times and throughput.
Tape should be included in every green data center strategy.
Storage optimization receives a big boost from an active archive which provides dynamic optimization and fast data access for archival storage systems.
Organizations continue to invest in LTO tape technology thanks to its high capacity, reliability, low cost, low power consumption and strong data protection features, especially as threats to cybersecurity soar.
As I started to write this blog on recent ransomware observations, an email message popped up on my PC from our IT department advising of additional and more stringent security enhancements taking place almost immediately to toughen my company’s cybersecurity and increase our protection against current and emerging threats. A sign of these cybercrime times, indeed!
Ransomware Trending According to a February 2022 Alert from CISA (Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency), 2021 trends showed an increasing threat of ransomware to organizations globally with tactics and techniques continuing to evolve in technological sophistication. So-called “big game” organizations like Colonial Pipeline, Kronos, JBS, Kaseya, and SolarWinds made the ransomware headlines over the past year or so. But according to the CISA Alert, by mid-2021, many ransomware threat actors, under pressure from U.S. authorities, turned their attention toward mid-sized victims to reduce the scrutiny and disruption caused by said authorities.
In a recent Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) study, 64% of respondents said their organization had paid a ransom to regain access to data, applications, or systems. These findings are supported by the latest Threat Landscape report from the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity. It highlighted a 150% rise in ransomware in 2021 compared to 2020. The agency expects that trend to continue, and even accelerate in 2022.
But these numbers hide the stark reality of the ransomware scourge. Gangs like DarkSide, REvil, and BlackMatter are terrorizing organizations with ransomware – and they are getting smarter and more organized. They have moved beyond the basic ploy of infecting files, locking users out of their data, and demanding a fee. They still want money. But they also endanger reputations by exposing attacks, blackmailing companies by threatening to reveal corporate or personal dirty laundry, and selling intellectual property (IP) to competitors.
As a result, cybersecurity spending has become a priority in most organizations. According to ESG, 69% of organizations plan to spend more on cybersecurity in 2022 than in the previous year, while 68% of senior IT decision-makers identify ransomware as one of their organization’s top 5 business priorities. Such is the fear factor that organizations are now treating cybersecurity ahead of other organizational imperatives such as the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), digital transformation, and application development.
New Federal Mandate and the SEC Takes Action On March 15th, in an effort to thwart cyberattacks from foreign spies and criminal hacking groups, President Biden signed into law a requirement for many critical-infrastructure companies to report to the government when they have been hacked. This way, authorities can better understand the scope of the problem and take appropriate action.
It’s also no wonder that the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) is taking action. On March 9th, the SEC voted 3 to 1 to propose reporting and disclosures related to cybercrime incidents and preparedness. In a nutshell, the SEC will be asking publicly traded companies:
To disclose material cybersecurity incidents
To disclose its policies and procedures to identify and manage cybersecurity risks
To disclose management’s role and expertise in managing cybersecurity risks
To disclose the board of director’s oversight role
Specifically, the SEC will want to know:
Whether a company undertakes activities to prevent, detect and minimize the effects of cybersecurity incidents
Whether it has business continuity, contingency, and recovery plans in the event of a cybersecurity incident
Whether the entire board, certain board members, or a board committee is responsible for the oversight of cybersecurity risks
Whether and how the board or board committee considers cybersecurity risks as part of its business strategy, risk management, and financial oversight
Holding publicly traded companies and their boards accountable for best practices in combating ransomware is a big step in the right direction and will no doubt free up the required budgets and resources.
Lowering the Fear Factor Cybersecurity is already a top spending priority for 2022 and with SEC regulations looming, will likely continue to be a priority for quite some time. Companies are busy beefing up the tools and resources needed to thwart ransomware. They are buying intrusion response tools and services, extended or managed detection and response suites, security information and event management platforms, antivirus, anti-malware, next-generation firewalls, and more, including cybercrime insurance policies.
What may be missing in the spending frenzy, however, are some fundamental basics that can certainly lower the fear factor. Backup tools are an essential ingredient in being able to swiftly recover from ransomware or other attacks. Similarly, thorough and timely patch management greatly lowers the risk of hackers finding a way into the enterprise via an unpatched vulnerability.
Another smart purchase is software that scans data and backups to ensure that no ransomware or malware is hidden inside. It is not uncommon for a ransomware victim to conduct a restore and find that its backup files have also been corrupted by malware. Cleansing data that is ready to be backed up has become critical. These are some of the fundamental basics that need to be in place in the fight against ransomware. Organizations that neglect them suffer far more from breaches than those that take care of them efficiently.
Adding an Air Gap Another fundamental basic is the elegantly simple air gap. When data is stored in the cloud, on disk, or in a backup appliance, it remains connected to the network. This leaves it vulnerable to unauthorized access and infection from bad actors. An air gap is essentially a physical gap between data and the network. It disconnects backed up or archived data from the Internet.
Such a gap commonly exists by partitioning in, or removing tapes from, an automated tape library and either storing them on a shelf or sending them to a secure external service provider. If that data is properly scanned prior to being backed up or archived to ensure it is free of infection, it offers certainty that a corruption-free copy of data exists. If a ransomware attack occurs, the organization can confidently fall back on a reliable copy of its data – and avoid any ransom demands.
Effectively Combatting Ransomware There is no silver security bullet that will 100% guarantee freedom from ransomware. It is truly a multi-faceted strategy. Implementation of best-of-breed security tools is certainly necessary. But they must be supported by the steadfast application of backup and patching best practices and the addition of a tape-based air gap.
CISA, the FBI, and cybersecurity insurance companies all recommend offline, offsite, air-gapped copies of data. This can be achieved cost-effectively with today’s removable, and highly portable modern tape technology. The boards of publicly traded companies will likely want to do whatever it takes to demonstrate compliance with best practices to meet the SEC requirements. This should include air-gapped tape as part of a prudent and comprehensive strategy. A best practice in these cybercrime times, indeed!
In case you were not aware of it, March 31st is World Backup Day. To be sure, a quick visit to the official website confirms that this day is just a reminder for consumers to backup their PCs and cell phones. According to the website, only 25% of consumers are protecting their precious memories. Surely the helpful recommendations for routine backup doesn’t apply to the storage professionals that keep our enterprise data safe and our websites up and running. Or does it?
When Disaster Strikes a Data Center
On Wednesday, March 10th, 2021, a fire broke out at the OVHCloud data center in Strasbourg, France. The fire quickly spread out of control and completely destroyed compute, network and storage infrastructure. According to some accounts, as many as 3.6 million websites including government agencies, financial institutions and gaming sites went dark. Others complained that years’ worth of data was permanently lost.
We know that the statistics regarding cost of downtime and the number of companies that don’t ever recover from catastrophic data loss are alarming. The often-cited University of Texas study shows that 94% of companies do not survive, 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years. That’s why the cardinal sin in data protection is not being able to recover data.
OVH reminds us that, however unlikely, data center disasters like an all-consuming fire can still happen. Although these days a more sinister threat continues to loom and tends to grab the headlines and our attention, namely: ransomware.
Archival data is piling up faster than ever as organizations are quickly learning the value of analyzing vast amounts of previously untapped digital data. Industry studies consistently find that the vast majority of all digital data is rarely, if ever, accessed again after it is stored. However, this is changing now with the emergence of big data analytics made possible by Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools that bring data back to life and tap its enormous value for improved efficiency and competitive advantage.
The need to securely store, search for, retrieve and analyze massive volumes of archival content is fueling new and more effective advancements in archive solutions. These trends are further compounded as an increasing number of businesses are approaching hyperscale levels with significant archival capacity requirements.
An active archive resolves complexity by leveraging the benefits of an intelligent data management layer, and an increasing number of effective software products that address this are now available. Access and management of data is getting more complex and is requiring modern strategies with intelligent data management techniques. These strategies and techniques are now being enhanced by AI to further improve and automate data management.
Product Marketing Manager
FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.
Over the past decade, the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry has experienced a considerable increase in the amount of data generated due to the transition from traditional media workflows to fully digital environments. Today, the retention and accessibility of digital assets and video are incredibly vital to maintaining a competitive advantage. Fujifilm understands M&E companies’ digital storage challenges; that’s why companies like MLB, The LA Kings Ice Hockey Team, Chainsaw Edit, and others have turned to Fujifilm tape to ensure the integrity of their video assets while drastically reducing long-term storage costs.
Today, tape storage is used in modern infrastructure to deliver high storage capacities with low cost of ownership compared to other storage solutions.
Modern M&E companies continue incorporating data tape storage into their environments to combat costs. Nowadays storage requirements are on a different scale from where M&E companies first started, and data will continue to increase exponentially as the industry moves from HD to 4K, and soon to 8K recording. Today, a single digital 4K camera can record up to 1.5 TB for every hour of filming. Before this, companies like the LA Kings only recorded 200 GB in an entire year. Most IT budgets in the industry are not growing enough to support today’s data deluge—of which data storage can consume 70%.
“Tape storage in general is the lowest cost storage of any type of storage,” says Storage Economics expert Brad Johns
The cost of using LTO-7 tape is as low as $0.01/GB which can be 7 times less expensive than disk storage over a ten year period.* Additionally, tape doesn’t use any energy when it’s not being used, on the other hand, disk systems use 76 times more electrical power than a similarly configured tape system.* “Tape storage in general is the lowest cost storage of any type of storage,” says Brad Johns, founder of Brad Johns Consulting LLC, a storage consulting firm.
Why are leading M&E companies turning to tape?
Portable to use at remote locations
Scalable to extremely large capacities
Open standards to allow the interchange of files
LTO tape is an ideal solution for M&E companies. LTO is an open format designed for interoperability and together with LTFS, provides easy data access and management—perfect for easy file share, high performance, and improved workflow.
How are M&E companies are using tape today?
NewBay Media has compiled how LTO technology and LTFS manage every stage of content creation/ management:
Production. LTO technology with LTFS protects original content with on-site backup copy, reduces camera media inventory costs, and enables the interchange of content between production sites and post-production.
Post-Production. LTO technology with LTFS offers a low-cost storage solution for work-in-progress, scales to meet large capacities, provides a standard means of interchange across the post-production ecosystem, and gives users the ability to offload less active content from expensive, high-performance flash or disks.
Distribution. LTO technology with LTFS supports the transfer of large amounts of digital content at low cost and serves as the de-facto standard for submission of content—to studios and between business partners.
Archiving. LTO technology with LTFS is ideal for long-term storage due to its durability, reliability, and low cost of operation. It scales to meet very large capacity requirements and supports rapid restoration for the repurposing of content.
Tape’s low-cost acquisition price per gigabyte and TCO advantage compared with other storage mediums make tape the most cost-effective technology for long-term data retention. Today, M& E companies can compare the total cost of ownership of data retention using TCO calculators created by Brad Johns Consulting, https://page.dternity.net/TCO.html, and the LTO consortium, https://www.lto.org/resources/.
More M&E companies are seeing the advantages of LTO tape, which can store massive amounts of data and combat ever-increasing storage costs across production, post-production, distribution, or archiving.
*Source: ESG report “Analyzing the Economic Value of LTO Tape for Long-Term Data Retention.”
*Source: The Clipper Group “Continuing the Search for the Right Mix of Long-Term Storage Infrastructure —A TCO Analysis of Disk and Tape Solutions.”
By Rich Gadomski
FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.
Have you ever noticed the grainy quality of surveillance footage shown on the local news broadcasts? Some unfortunate citizen is getting assaulted after making an ATM withdrawal and you feel like you’re watching a 1930s Charlie Chaplin rerun. The reason for this is that most organizations charged with surveilling public places can’t afford to do so in high resolution and certainly can’t afford to keep the surveillance content for any considerable period of time. Yet wouldn’t it be nice to easily ID the suspect and maybe go back to other video databases to see if there’s a pattern occurring over time?
As a society we want better security and swifter justice. We have the technology to achieve this but we don’t necessarily have the budget. The good news is that a record number of surveillance cameras are shipping year after year. They are also becoming more affordable and resolutions are steadily increasing to include 4K or better.
In fact, demand for video surveillance systems is continuing to explode driven by several factors including increased security threats, legislation, IoT applications, law enforcement applications and increasing affordability of surveillance cameras.
All of this is taking place at a time when society is demanding more transparency into what is happening in our public places and in law enforcement actions. This has resulted in a steady increase in evidentiary content from facility security cameras to body worn cameras, dashboard cameras, interview room audio and video recordings, cell phone data and others. This proliferation of surveillance technology has given rise to the “transparency paradox” where the public demands more recorded evidence which creates the need for more data storage. But we only have limited budgets that can’t handle the increasing data retention burdens.
This is where the concept of an active archive comes into focus providing a solution where organizations can afford to maintain online access to all of their surveillance content in a multi-tiered storage system that leverages the speed of flash and disk with the superior economics of tape. In a typical active archive environment, the file system extends across all storage tiers from primary flash/disk to long term, economy tape storage. Content moves by policy from high cost primary storage to low cost, long term storage. Typically this means LTFS LTO tape featuring the highest capacity, longest archival life, highest reliability and lowest total cost of ownership.
With an active archive in place, organizations can easily and cost effectively maintain more surveillance content at higher resolutions for longer retention periods and can maintain this on-premises to safely control chain of custody.
Expect demand for active archives to solve the “transparency paradox.” It should make the local news more engaging too!
Horison Information Strategies
Given the changing landscape of the IT industry, many of the original concepts about backups are delivering additional value and are now back in style. One of those original backup concepts is the 3-2-1 rule. This rule states enterprises should have three copies of backups on two different media types, one of which is kept offsite. There are two ways to have an offsite copy – either with an online (electronic access) or with an offline (manual access) cloud. The offsite and offline copy is rapidly becoming more critical and describes what is now referred to as an “air gap”. An “air gap” is an electronically disconnected copy of data that prevents rolling cybercrime disasters from getting to all your backup copies. The only way to create a physical air gap is to copy data to removable media and store that media offline. This makes tape media an ideal solution for most data centers. An off-site backup and storage facility can be either online, offline or both and can often be the most physically secure facilities in the industry.
You can put an electronic air gap between your backup server and backup storage by making sure that the backup is not accessible via any network or electronic connection. Most tape cartridges typically reside in library racks meaning they are offline well over 95% of the time (protected by the air gap) and are not electronically accessible to hackers.
The air gap prevents cyber-attacks since data stored offline – without an electronic access – cannot be hacked. For example, “ransomware” is the latest crypto-viral extortion technique which encrypts the victim’s files making them inaccessible, and then demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. These new types of attacks embed time-delayed undetected malware into your backup repositories sometimes taking several months to reactivate. This makes file restoration pointless because as you recover your data, the ransomware re-ignites and then re-encrypts the data all over again. This is known as the Attack-Loop™.
Whether you have the best backup solution, the latest anti-virus protection, or multiple versions of back up repositories, this next generation of cybercrime is evolving so quickly that those concepts seldom matter anymore. In a cloud-based backup, critical data is backed-up over the internet and most likely stored in a shared storage infrastructure at an off-site data center maintained by a third-party cloud company providing backup, archiving and replication services.
Fortunately, Attack Loop software is now becoming available and uses signature-less technology which checks and quarantines malicious code upon entry into the backup repository and again prior to recovery into your online environment. Combining offline tape storage with Attack Loop software yields the greatest chance of preventing cybercrime.
Given the rising wave of cybercrime, the role of tape-based offline storage and cloud solutions taking advantage of the “Tape Air Gap” is back in style.
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