FUJIFILM INSIGHTS BLOG

Data Storage

The Sustainable Preservation of Enterprise Data, a New Report by John Monroe of Furthur Market Research and Brad Johns of Brad Johns Consulting LLC

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John Monroe of Furthur Market Research, a long-time storage industry expert and former Gartner analyst, together with Brad Johns, storage industry expert on TCO and energy consumption, recently published a new report entitled “The Sustainable Preservation of Enterprise Data”. This report is a follow-up to John’s most recent report, “Preservation or Deletion: Archiving and Accessing the Dataverse” March 2023, and his initial report entitled “The Escalating Challenge of Preserving Enterprise Data”, August 2022. The new report is co-sponsored by Cerabyte, Fujifilm, and IBM.

This new and in-depth report looks at refined forecasts for enterprise storage capacity shipments through 2035 and the growing installed base of enterprise storage comprised of enterprise-grade SSD, HDD, tape and future emerging technologies (new forms of tape, ceramics, DNA, optical, silica, and others). The findings and conclusions in this report point to the fact that enterprise storage will consume more and more of the available data center power budget and that IT managers must soon proactively deploy fewer SSDs and HDDs and more tape and enterprise emerging storage technologies in the future. This will be required to be in alignment with the total availability of energy, constrained IT budgets and ecological goals. Below are some summaries and excerpts taken from the report and a link is provided to view/download the full report.

A Dataverse of Stunning Dimensions

At the end of 2022, a year in which storage demand declined in unprecedented ways, the dimensions of the active installed base of enterprise data stored on SSD, HDD, and tape media still grew to 4.8 zettabytes (or 4.8 thousand exabytes, or 4.8 million petabytes), up a staggering 53x over the 91,000 petabytes (or 91 exabytes) in 2010. Despite another year of downturn in 2023, the authors still estimate the active installed base of enterprise data will exceed a massive 40 zettabytes in 2035, up more than 475x over 2010.

Cool, Cold or Frozen Data Dominates

The problem with all of this enterprise data is that it is perceived to be too valuable now, or potentially will be too valuable in the future, to be deleted. According to the authors, at least 70%, or more probably 80% of enterprise data will become cold after 60 days and will continue to be “cool”, “cold” or “frozen,” with infrequent access times of minutes to days to weeks to years to decades, with little or no need for the performance of SSDs and HDDs, but with greatly expanding needs for Sustainability, Immutability, and Security (SIS), which SSDs and HDDs can neither cost effectively nor power efficiently fulfill.

Concern for Data Center Energy Consumption

The power demands of enterprise storage will continue to increase as a percentage of the overall data center energy budget. The report shows a shift in the percentage of the data center energy budget dedicated to storage from 17% in 2020 to 29% in 2035.  According to the authors, data center managers must learn to integrate more cost-effective and power-efficient storage technologies. There are already a multitude of CO2 emission compliance regulations in place throughout the world (with much stricter regulations in Europe) and growing scarcities of total available energy for datacenters in many areas. Healthy ecosystems have become more crucial considerations in all IT purchasing decisions, and many data center managers will soon be forced—by upper-level management or by compliance regulations—to use tape and various enterprise emerging technologies as ultra-low-cost, sustainable storage alternatives. The report shows that tape and emerging enterprise emerging technologies, also referred to as the “active archive” tier by the authors, will consume 99% less energy than primary storage tiers of SSDs and HDDs.

Total Cost of Ownership Savings and a Shifting of Exabytes

The rapid growth of the dataverse creates not only energy consumption and CO2 emissions challenges but also cost challenges. The costs of managing multi-zettabytes over increasingly lengthy time periods will continue to swell, causing a steady migration of data to the active archive tier. In 2035, the authors project that the 5-year costs per terabyte for an SSD system will be 33x (up from 16x in 2020) and an HDD system will be 8x (up from 2.4x in 2020) compared to the 5-year cost per terabyte for an active archive system. Based on the 2023 CapEx and OpEx estimates in the report, for every exabyte of cold or frozen data moved from HDD to tape storage, total costs can be reduced by more than $16 million over five years. The estimated annual energy costs will also drop by almost $1 million per exabyte, and annual CO2 emissions can be reduced by almost seven kilotons. These substantial cost advantages combined with far lower energy consumption, lead the authors to believe that tape and enterprise emerging technology shipments will display consistent growth through at least 2035 and will exceed combined SSD+HDD exabyte deliveries in 2034.

In Conclusion

With the advent of new tape and enterprise emerging storage technologies, the authors have forecast that active archive shipments will expand to comprise more than 50% of the fresh enterprise zettabytes delivered in 2034 and 2035. In the cool, cold and frozen enterprise data layers—which have little or no real need for the performance of SSDs or HDDs, but have greatly expanding needs for Sustainability, Immutability, and Security—the most cost-effective and power-efficient technologies will inevitably prevail, according to the authors, because they make the greatest fiscal and ecological sense.

To read the full report:

http://furthurdata.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Sustainable-Preservation-of-Enterprise-Data_V13.pdf

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Top 5 Reasons Why Offsite and Offline Data Tape Vaults are Still Thriving

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I recently had the opportunity to visit a very unique data tape vault run by Vital Records, Inc. The location I visited is in Roxbury New Jersey, about an hour drive from New York City. What makes this tape vault known as VRI Roxbury, so unique is that it is 125,000 square feet of vault space situated between 30 and 50 feet underground. It was originally built by AT&T as a hardened command center bunker in the 1960’s. The facility is an intriguing blast from the past with relics of AT&T’s occupancy tastefully preserved. It was built to withstand natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires or dare I say, a nearby nuclear blast. In such an event, AT&T could continue to support the telecommunications needs of its clients, including the U.S. Military. So no expense was spared in building what is truly an engineering marvel below ground.

Vital Records purchased the facility in 1995 upon its decommissioning by AT&T and repurposed the space for protection and preservation of valuable enterprise data, most often in the form of millions of removable/portable data and video tapes. To say that the facility is fascinating would be an understatement. It is however, non-descript, at least upon arrival. VRI Roxbury is discreetly perched in the middle of desolate woods, atop a slight rise in the landscape, some 1,100+ feet above sea level, with nothing but a nameless security gate, a freshly painted parking lot, and a small anonymous structure housing an elevator entrance to accommodate pre-screened visitors and authorized employees at any time of day, 24/7.

Truth be told, this was not my first visit to VRI Roxbury. I had toured the facility some 20 years earlier while working for another data tape manufacturer. And while the facility has kept up with modern innovations such as security protocols including iris scans, temperature and humidity monitoring, hi-def video surveillance, new and improved inventory management techniques, it still essentially provides the same services today that it did 20 years ago. However, given several critical market dynamics, these services are more relevant today than ever before.

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Flash Memory Summit a Big Hit with Tape and DNA Included

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I had the opportunity to attend in person and present on the latest in tape technology at the 16th Annual Flash Memory Summit (FMS) held in Santa Clara last week. That’s right, tape technology at a flash conference. My friends from the DNA Data Storage Alliance were there presenting too. So what gives?

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Avoiding Potential Risk of Stagnation in the Secondary Storage Market

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By Guest Blogger Peter Faulhaber, former president and CEO, FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.

The Hyperscale Data Center (HSDC) secondary storage market is quickly emerging, requiring advanced solutions for petascale and exascale storage systems, not currently available. According to HORISON Information Strategies, HSDCs currently use around 3% of the world’s electrical energy. Due to the massive energy footprint of HSDCs, climate protection measures have become increasingly important in recent years, with cloud computing offering the greatest advantages for sustainable operation by reducing the energy and carbon footprint over the entire data life cycle.

The slowing rate of HDD and tape technology development roadmaps in recent years, along with HDD and tape storage supplier consolidations are particularly concerning trends to HSDCs. Neither HDD nor tape technology is currently positioned by itself to effectively meet the enormous HSDC storage requirements that future performance and capacity demands. High technical asset specificity requires significant R&D investment, yet have limited ROI potential outside of hyperscalers.

HSDCs manage over 60% of the world’s data today with a CAGR of 35 – 40%, with a growing need for cost-effective secondary storage that still meets certain performance thresholds.

The vendors and manufacturers are dis-incentivized to invest in novel technology; the risk reward is not high enough, while HSDCs are leveraging their buying and bargaining power. Manufacturers need to invest hundreds of millions to bring innovative solutions to market in a long development cycle, without a commitment from the HSDC market.

As a result, the secondary storage market is left with incremental investments in existing technologies and moves slowly.

The conditions are set for a widening gap between customer demands and product solutions in the secondary storage market.

The current “vendor-driven” strategy will not keep pace with HSDC requirements for secondary storage as such offerings fall far behind HSDC curves. Photonics, DNA, glass, and holographic experiments are attempting to address the market, and have been in labs for decades, but most have drawbacks, and none are on the near-term horizon for customer deployment. These initiatives show that a change is needed to get ahead of the demand curve.

However, the opportunity also exists to mitigate this risk by bringing the interested parties together  to share the risk reward paradigm. HSDCs need a quantum leap, which only comes with significant investment, best shared by the interested parties.

The Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) addressed the concept  of vertical market failure in September 2021 in its published article “New Trajectories for Memory and Storage,” stating, “The prospect of vertical market failure can be mitigated by private sector market participants through risk-share agreements between customers and suppliers, as well as increased vertical integration.”

Without change, current technologies will fall far behind HSDC demand curves, and the current vendor-driven trajectory increases the likelihood of un-met demand and stagnation of growth for all involved.

 

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Celebrating 70 Years of Data Storage With Tape Technology

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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.

For more information on current tape products see the IBM product page.

 

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Tape Advancements Push Storage and Sustainability Benefits to New Levels

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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.

To access the full report, visit: Tape to Play Critical Roles as the Zettabyte Era Takes Off.

 

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Observing Earth Day 2022 In Light of Record LTO Data Tape Capacity Shipments

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The LTO Technology Provider Companies (IBM, HPE, and Quantum) issued a press release earlier this week announcing record capacity shipments for LTO in 2021 of 148 Exabytes (148,000 Petabytes) compressed (up from 105 EB compressed in 2020, +40%). More and more of the world’s data is being stored on LTO data tape. That’s good news for the IT industry! Is it not? After all, end users and service providers need:

  • A strategic way to store and protect massive amounts of increasingly valuable data, especially data that’s gone cool or cold
  • A cost-effective and reliable long term storage solution
  • An air gap defense against cybercrime
  • An eco-friendly form of storage!

 

Industry Pundits React
Some industry pundits, biased toward the HDD industry, took the opportunity to downplay the news. They said the data is inaccurate or insignificant compared to the capacity shipments for HDD last year. Really? Does tape technology threaten the market for HDD? Is it still about tape vs. disk in their minds? Have trains, trucks, and ships put air freight out of business? Or does a more strategic thought process say: “These technologies complement each other. We need both to meet the needs of end-users, storage service providers, and society itself…”

Analysts Predict Huge Zettabyte Demand
Indeed, if the big industry analysts firms are right, we will need to be storing more than 11.0 zettabytes of data in 2025. Just one zettabyte would require 55 million 18.0 TB HDDs or 55 million LTO-9 tape cartridges. Should we store all of that data on HDD, whether it is hot, warm, cool, or cold? Of course, we can’t just delete excess data. Now that we can analyze the data and derive a competitive advantage from it, the value of data has increased and we need to store more and more data for longer periods of time. As a result, the projections for the amount of persistent data to be stored are growing exponentially. We will need huge amounts of flash, HDD, tape, and even future storage solutions like DNA to address the data storage challenge.

A Strategic Approach to Data Storage
The key to success will be a strategic approach that leverages intelligent data management software to automate data movement to the right tiers of storage at the right time, the right cost, and the right energy profile. Employing a strategic approach to data storage in an effort to reduce costs and energy consumption all while maintaining service level agreements seems to make sense. Take a good look at an active archive solution, for example. Yet again, there are those industry pundits who say, the amount of energy saved by moving static, inactive, and infrequently accessed data to a tape tier is not significant in the big picture of the IT industry. The real problem they say is the amount of energy consumed by a single Google search. But isn’t that like saying; “Don’t bother turning the lights out before leaving the office for the night. It’s just a drop in the ocean of energy consumption,” or “Why bother turning off the engine of your car when filling up on gas? It’s just a few minutes of idle time and won’t really impact CO2 emissions at all.” Right?

Change of Attitude Needed
But this is the wrong attitude and exactly what has to change to make a difference. Collectively, if we all switch off a light and all turn the car’s engine off, we will make a difference. We might even get motivated for more change! How about installing LED light bulbs or investing in an electric vehicle? Or maybe make the commitment and take the leadership on a renewable energy installation. Attitudes have to change, believing we can make a difference collectively. If data is inactive, why keep it on energy-intensive, constantly spinning disk? Are we all doing whatever it takes to make a difference?

New Flagship UN Report Is a Wake-up Call
If we believe the latest studies on climate change coming out of the United Nations, we need to start quickly taking any action we can. A new UN report on climate change from earlier this month indicated that harmful carbon emissions in the last decade have never been higher in earth’s history. It’s proof that the world is on a “fast track” to climate disaster. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that it’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C. Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles, and patterns of consumption and production. Guterres adds, “This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degrees C limit” that was agreed in Paris in 2015. To limit global warming to around 1.5 C (2.7 F), the IPCC report insists that global greenhouse gas emissions will have to peak “before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030.”

Reducing Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions with Tape
To help increase awareness and understanding of energy consumption in data storage, a number of whitepapers have been published highlighting alternative options for storage including LTO data tape. A recent IDC whitepaper studied migrating cold data from HDDs to LTO tape. The opportunity to positively impact the environment by shifting to tape is staggering. This strategic approach can reduce storage-related CO2 emissions by, coincidently, 43.7% by 2030. This would avoid 664 M metric tons of CO2 cumulatively. That’s the equivalent amount of CO2 produced by 144 million passenger cars driven in the course of a year!

Other research shows that tape consumes 87% less energy than equivalent amounts of HDD storage. When CO2 emissions are analyzed over the entire product lifecycle (from raw materials to production to distribution, usage, and disposal) of HDD and tape, studies show a 95% reduction in CO2 in favor of tape compared to HDD. The same study shows Total Cost of Ownership for long-term data storage can be reduced by more than 70% by using tape instead of HDD. At the same time, tape can provide an effective defense against cybercrime via a physical air gap. All of this is possible by taking a strategic storage approach, where cool or cold data that has aged and is infrequently accessed gets moved from expensive primary storage to economical and environmentally friendly tape systems, online or offline.

Data Center World Attendees Get It
In my last blog on my visit and presentation at Data Center World in Austin last month, I mentioned that I was encouraged by the DCW attendees that I met and listened to in my session and other sessions. They are genuinely concerned about the environment and worried about what kind of planet we will be leaving behind for our kids and grandchildren. They recognize the opportunity to improve sustainability in data center operations and are committed to it. But since then it has occurred to me that maybe sustainability is more of a focus for facility teams. Perhaps the top-down pressure from the C-suite has yet to be widely applied to the data storage management teams. However, in the quest to achieve the needed sustainability goals, no stone can remain unturned.

Observing Earth Day for Future Generations
With Earth Day being observed today, let’s commit to strategically taking action in response to global warming and climate change. Let’s start changing attitudes from “It won’t make a difference” to “Collectively, we can make a difference.” Let’s look at the bright side of increasing LTO capacity shipments instead of the dark, self-serving side. Let’s think about the planet that’s home for us and the future generations of our families to come.

 

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New Federal Cybersecurity Mandates Enacted and SEC Rules Proposed, Amidst Never-Ending Ransomware Attacks

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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!

 

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Majority of C-Suite Respondents Would Consider Alternative Data Storage Option that is More Sustainable and Affordable, Survey Confirms

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I think it’s safe to say people like surveys, probably not everyone, but most people do. Why? Experts in the field suggest that people are willing to take surveys because respondents feel their opinions are valued and that their answers will be used and may even result in a benefit to society. They feel their participation will impact something they care about, and they want to share their opinion with those who will listen and act on the information.

Surveying the C-Suite on Sustainability
So it’s not surprising that Fujifilm got a great response rate to a recently launched survey entitled Awareness Survey on Environmental Issues in the Digital Domain.  As many as 1,200 C-suite professionals responded including CEOs, CFOs, CSOs, CTOs, and CIOs from companies of 100 or more employees in the United States, Germany, Japan, and China.

The survey revealed that there is a growing awareness around broader environmental issues among corporate leaders, and that’s great news as the negative impacts of global warming and climate change keep piling up, flood after flood, wildfire after wildfire, and storm after storm.

When it comes to IT infrastructure specifically, the majority of U.S. respondents believe sustainability improvements in IT services and equipment can positively impact climate change, but 40% indicated that they did not know or were unsure if data storage can have a negative environmental impact and increase the cost of doing business.

Increasing Data Storage Requirements
Data storage can certainly be energy-intensive. This is a problem that is only getting worse as the value of data rises with the ability to analyze and derive competitive advantage from it. As a result, demand for long-term data retention is increasing. In fact, data to be stored is expected to grow from just 2.0 zettabytes in 2016 to 4.1 ZB in 2020 and is expected to reach 11.1 ZB in 2025 according to a recent whitepaper from IDC. Just one ZB is a vast amount of data equal to one million petabytes that would need 55 million 18 TB hard disk drives (HDDs) or 55 million 18 TB LTO-9 tapes to store. The environmental impact of the energy required to support this volume of storage is greatly underestimated, as are the associated carbon emissions. When asked in the survey what barriers exist for those who have not considered more eco-friendly data storage options, 31% in the U.S. cited a lack of awareness or understanding of the issue.

Hot vs. Cold Data
There was also a lack of awareness pertaining to frequently accessed “hot” data and less frequently accessed “cold” data, with 36% of respondents saying they either don’t or are unsure if they differentiate between the two. And 35% don’t realize that differentiating between hot and cold data can impact sustainability, affordability, and security. An interesting fact about data is that it quickly goes cold and access frequency drops off significantly after just 30, 60, or even 90 days. In fact, industry analysts estimate that 60% to 80% of all data stored is cold and qualifies as “archival”. Yet through inertia, that data often remains on energy intensive, constantly spinning and heat-producing tiers of storage like hard disk drives.

Reducing Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions with Tape
To help increase awareness and understanding of this issue, a number of whitepapers have been published highlighting alternative options for storage including LTO data tape. A recent IDC whitepaper shows how migrating cold data from HDDs to LTO tape can reduce data centers’ CO2 emissions by 43.7% by 2030, avoiding 664 M metric tons of CO2 cumulatively. Other research shows that tape consumes 87% less energy than equivalent amounts of HDD storage. When CO2 emissions are analyzed over the entire product lifecycle (from raw materials to production to distribution, usage, and disposal) of HDD and tape, studies show a 95% reduction in CO2 in favor of tape compared to HDD. The same study shows Total Cost of Ownership for long-term data storage can be reduced by more than 70% using tape instead of HDD. All of this is possible by taking a storage optimization approach, where data that has aged and is infrequently accessed, otherwise known as cold data, gets moved from expensive primary storage like solid-state flash drives and HDDs to economical and environmentally friendly tape systems.

As far as security is concerned, tape is also playing a role in cybercrime prevention with air gap capabilities, WORM, and encryption. Intelligent data management software, typical in today’s active archive environments, can automatically move data from expensive, energy-intensive tiers of storage to more economical and energy-efficient tiers based on user-defined policies. By moving inactive data out of primary storage, the ransomware attack surface can also be reduced.

Renewable Energy Plus Conservation
Another interesting point from the survey reveals that 51% of participants said that their companies are using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, while 22% said they are doing so via climate protection projects and 13% through carbon offsets. Renewable energy is a key factor in reducing CO2 emissions and Fujifilm is a fan (see photo at right of our LTO plant in Bedford, MA). But alone renewables likely can’t come online fast enough or cheaply enough to keep up with data growth rates of between 30% – 60% annually in major data centers today. That’s why conservation has to be part of the equation. The very first metric to be analyzed in data center energy efficiency is simply the amount of energy that’s being consumed.

Alternative Data Storage Options
Finally, 81% of respondents noted that they would consider an alternative data storage option that is more sustainable and affordable. That option exists in the form of today’s modern and highly advanced data tape systems that offer the lowest energy consumption and cost profile. Add to that its best-in-class reliability rating of any storage media and longest archival life. So for the benefit of society, let’s act on the information that the survey reveals. It’s really just a question of getting the right data, in the right place, at the right time.

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