FUJIFILM INSIGHTS BLOG

Data Storage

3 Reasons Why Migrating Data to Tape Systems Makes Sense in Light of SSD and HDD Supply Chain Concerns

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By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

The Arrival of the Zettabyte Era
The data storage market has clearly entered the “zettabyte era” where new capacity shipments have exceeded a massive one zettabyte for a couple of years now. The data storage requirements are being driven by the phenomenon of “digital transformation” and the rising value of data that needs to be stored for longer periods of time, and in some cases, indefinitely. Further accelerating the zettabyte era is the other era we are all in, that being the “pandemic era”. With this era comes the unanticipated need for an unexpected remote workforce and the ever-expanding internet with its proliferation of online apps.

Pandemic Related Supply Shortages
The pandemic has brought with it related disruptions to the global supply chain including shortages of semiconductor chips. It’s been tough to get modern goods from toys to notebooks to refrigerators to automobiles. The combination of zettabyte and pandemic era has even put a strain on supply chains and the availability of SSDs and HDDs needed to support the digital transformation. This has been the cause of fluctuating prices based on quarterly supply and demand swings.

Supply Chain Challenges Persist
While pandemic-related labor shortages have delayed the production and distribution of goods, other factors are making matters worse. How about global warming, climate change, and the ensuing natural disasters that have had negative impacts on the supply chain? How about international rivalries and tensions impacting the availability of key components? Or cybercriminals shutting down vital infrastructure? Bottom line: industry pundits say we can expect supply chain hassles to continue throughout 2022.

Supply Chain Contingency Planning in Data Storage
Faced with supply chain risks in any industry, it’s always good to have contingency plans to mitigate risk and ensure ongoing operations. The IT industry is no exception where the availability of commodities that we may take for granted can be interrupted by any of the factors listed above from unforeseen demand to pandemic-related shortages to global warming, trade wars, and cybercrime.

A great way to avoid supply chain disruptions in the availability of primary storage devices like SSDs and HDDs is to employ intelligent data management software, typical of active archive solutions, that will automate the migration of data from these potentially supply chain affected devices to a modern, automated tape library. Since 60 to 80 percent of data quickly goes cold after a short period of time, why keep it stored on higher performing, expensive, and energy-intensive devices? Given the global supply chain uncertainty, 3 good reasons to migrate data from primary storage devices to tape storage are:

  • Free up capacity on expensive Tier 1 and Tier 2 storage devices like SSDs and HDDs in favor of TCO friendly tape systems
  • Reduce energy consumption and related CO2 emissions by leveraging the low power profile of automated tape systems
  • Take advantage of tape’s natural air gap security in the never-ending war against ransomware

The above actually makes sense even in the absence of supply chain concerns. Since data to be stored is growing at a CAGR of around 30% versus IT budget growth somewhere in the low single digits, the IT industry needs to find a more cost-effective storage solution. With the increasing value of data and indefinite retention periods, the long-term archival profile of tape coupled with best-in-class reliability actually makes sense.

Fighting Climate Change and Cybercrime
Finally, we all have to engage in the battle against global warming and climate change if we are to preserve the planet that we inhabit. Studies show that tape systems consume 87% less energy than equivalent amounts of disk storage and produce 95% less CO2 emissions than disk over the product lifecycle. Other studies show that collectively, the global IT industry could avoid as much as 664 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by strategically moving more data to tape systems.  As data cools off or goes cold, it should migrate to less expensive, less energy-intensive, and more secure tiers of storage.

Once the pandemic era finally subsides, it will be environmental calamities brought on by climate change and the relentless threat of cybercriminals that will have long-term impacts on supply chains.

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5 Big Predictions that will Impact Data Storage in 2022…and Beyond

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January 5, 2022

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism, FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.

It seems like 2020 and 2021 have blended to combine into one long, tough time for all of us. Let’s hope 2022 emerges on the brighter side! In the meantime, here are 5 big predictions we see coming up in this New Year and beyond:

1. Increasing Focus on IT Energy Consumption

Severe weather was once again a hallmark of 2021, from the Texas deep freeze right up to the bitter end of 2021. As unusual tornadoes and wildfires reminded us of the negative impact of global warming and climate change.

According to a report from the United Nations released in August of 2021, irreversible damage has already been done to the environment as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. The world showed renewed interest in the COP 26 conference in Glasgow where countries from around the globe gathered to pledge their commitments to combat climate change.

Wall Street got in on the act too and will increasingly demand that companies disclose their sustainability initiatives and results. Accordingly, more and more companies will be appointing Chief Sustainability Officers who will put pressure on their organization’s energy usage including energy-intensive IT operations.  The use of renewables, but also energy conservation measures will be mandated.

Curbing CO2 emissions is quickly becoming a C-suite imperative and storage will not escape the scrutiny. Research shows that 81% of CIOs would consider alternative data storage options that are more cost-effective and sustainable. This will set the stage for new tape system deployments that not only can reduce TCO by more than 70%, but can reduce CO2 emissions by 95% compared to traditional HDD storage.

2. Return to Hybrid Cloud Strategies

Prior to COVID 19, the term “cloud repatriation” appeared often in the press as it turned out that cloud was not a panacea for everything. But COVID 19 understandably created short-term storage strategies often resulting in a flight to the cloud.

However, long-term thinking will favor hybrid cloud strategies where the best of public cloud plus on-prem private cloud provides maximum flexibility and value. This will especially apply to data accessibility, regulatory requirements, data governance, and cybercrime risks including ransomware.

Today’s modern automated tape solutions will provide the advantages of cost, scalability, reliability, and data protection to support the hybrid cloud model.

3. Storage Optimization Will Be Key to Data Growth Management

With the continuing digital transformation comes the zettabyte age of storage where data to be stored globally will approach 6.0 zettabytes (ZB) in 2022, according to a leading IT industry analyst.  Just one ZB would require 55 million 18.0 TB HDDs or 55 million 18.0 TB LTO-9 cartridges!

Storage optimization, that is to say, getting the right data, in the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost will be critical to maintaining competitive advantage.

Intelligent data management will be required, leveraging multiple tiers of storage, active archives, and innovative S3-compatible archive solutions for object storage.  Nowhere will this be more apparent than in digital preservation and high-performance computing environments with a simple need to offload expensive object storage to cost-effective tape systems using an S3-compatible API.

4. Continuing Rise of Ransomware

It has been said that ransomware is only in “its infancy” and it’s been said many more times, an attack is not a matter of “if” but “when.”  The FBI and CISA have weighed in with this advice:

“Backup your data, system images, and configurations, test your backups, and keep backups offline.”

As ransomware hackers mature in sophistication (and profits), online backups are increasingly being targeted to hamper recovery efforts, including cloud-based backups connected to a network. As a result, the value of affordable, removable, and highly-portable tape will only increase, providing true air gap protection (meaning offline, offsite backups in a secure location).

5. Video Surveillance Content Management

As we predicted last year, data tape has increasingly become a strategic option in managing the ballooning volume of video content associated with video surveillance applications.

Due to security reasons, regulatory compliance, or for future analytics, retention volumes and periods will only increase making legacy HDD solutions cost-prohibitive and unsustainable in terms of energy consumption. Look for increasing adoption of cost-effective tier 2 tape in video retention workflows in 2022.

Successfully emerging from the combined years of 2020 and 2021 will require getting back to strategic, long-term planning. Given the relentless growth of data, environmental concerns, and limited resources and budgets, today’s highly advanced tape storage will play an increasingly vital role in 2022 and beyond.

 

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How Tape Technology Delivers Value in Modern Data-driven Businesses…in the Age of Zettabyte Storage

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October 27, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

The newly released whitepaper from IT analyst firm ESG (Enterprise Strategy Group), sponsored by IBM and Fujifilm, entitled, “How Tape Technology Delivers Value in Modern Data-driven Businesses,” focuses on exciting, new advances in tape technology that are now positioning tape for a critical role in effective data protection and retention in the age of zettabyte (ZB) storage. That’s right “zettabyte storage!”

The whitepaper cites the need to store 17 ZB of persistent data by 2025. This includes “cold data” stored long-term and rarely accessed that is estimated to account for 80% of all data stored today. Just one ZB is a tremendous amount of data equal to one million petabytes that would need 55 million 18 TB hard drives or 55 million 18 TB LTO-9 tapes to store. Just like the crew in the movie Jaws needed a bigger boat, the IT industry is going to need higher capacity SSDs, HDDs, and higher density tape cartridges! On the tape front, help is on the way as demonstrated by IBM and Fujifilm in the form of a potential 580 TB capacity tape cartridge. Additional highlights from ESG’s whitepaper are below.

New Tape Technology
IBM and Fujifilm set a new areal density record of 317 Gb/sq. inch on linear magnetic tape translating to a potential cartridge capacity of 580 TB native featuring a new magnetic particle called Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) with the ability to deliver capacities that extend well beyond disk, LTO, and enterprise tape roadmaps. SrFe magnetic particles are 60% smaller than the current defacto standard Barium Ferrite magnetic particles yet exhibit even better magnetic signal strength and archival life. On the hardware front, the IBM team has developed tape head enhancements and servo technologies to leverage even narrower data tracks to contribute to the increase in capacity.

The Case for Tape at Hyperscalers and Others
Hyperscale data centers are major new consumers of tape technologies due to their need to manage massive data volumes while controlling costs. Tape is allowing hyperscalers including cloud service providers to achieve business objectives by providing data protection for critical assets, archival capabilities, easy capacity scaling, the lowest TCO, high reliability, fast throughput, low power consumption, and air gap protection. But tape also makes sense for small to large enterprise data centers facing the same data growth challenges including the need to scale their environments while keeping their costs down.

Data Protection, Archive, Resiliency, Intelligent Data Management
According to an ESG survey revealed in the whitepaper, tape users identified reliability, cybersecurity, long archival life, low cost, efficiency, flexibility, and capacity as top attributes in tape usage today and favor tape for its long-term value. Data is growing relentlessly with longer retention periods as the value of data is increasing thanks to the ability to apply advanced analytics to derive a competitive advantage. Data is often kept for longer periods to meet compliance, regulatory, and for corporate governance reasons. Tape is also playing a role in cybercrime prevention with WORM, encryption, and air gap capabilities. Intelligent data management software, typical in today’s active archive environments, automatically moves data from expensive, energy-intensive tiers of storage to more economical and energy-efficient tiers based on user-defined policies.

ESG concludes that tape is the strategic answer to the many challenges facing data storage managers including the growing amount of data as well as TCO, cybersecurity, scalability, reliability, energy efficiency, and more. IBM and Fujifilm’s technology demonstration ensures the continuing role of tape as data requirements grow in the future and higher capacity media is required for cost control with the benefit of CO2 reductions among others. Tape is a powerful solution for organizations that adopt it now!

To read the full ESG whitepaper, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LTO-9 Coming to Market at the Right Time with the Right Features to Address the Many Challenges Facing IT Today

Reading Time: 5 minutes

September 9, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

As recently announced by Fujifilm, LTO-9 has arrived and is available for immediate delivery. It certainly comes at a time when the IT industry is so challenged to manage rampant data growth, control costs, reduce carbon footprint and fight off cyber-attacks. LTO-9 is coming to market just in time to meet all of these challenges with the right features like capacity, low cost, energy efficiency, and cyber security.

What a Great Run for LTO
First of all, it is remarkable to look at how far LTO Ultrium technology has come since its introduction. LTO made its market debut in 2000 with the first generation LTO-1 at 100/200 GB native/compressed capacity with 384 data tracks. Transfer rate was just 20 MB native and 40 MB compressed per second. Fast forward 21 years to the availability of LTO-9 now with 18/45 TB native/ compressed capacity on 8,960 data tracks, with transfer rate increasing to 400 MB per second, 1,000 MB per second compressed! In terms of compressed capacity, that’s a 225X increase compared to LTO-1. Since 2000, Fujifilm alone has manufactured and sold over 170 million LTO tape cartridges, a pretty good run indeed.

Capacity to Absorb Bloated Data Sets
We are firmly in the zettabyte age now and it’s no secret that data is growing faster than most organizations can handle. With compound annual data growth rates of 30 to 60% for most organizations, keeping data protected for the long term is increasingly challenging. Just delete it you say? That’s not an option as the value of data is increasing rapidly thanks to the many analytics tools we now have to derive value from it. If we can derive value from that data, even older data sets, then we want to keep it indefinitely. But this data can’t economically reside on Tier 1 or Tier 2 storage. Ideally, it will move to Tier 3 tape as an archive or active archive where online access can be maintained. LTO-9 is perfect for this application thanks to its large capacity (18 TB native, 45 TB compressed) and high data transfer rate (400 MB sec native, 1,000 MB sec compressed).

Lowest TCO to Help Control Costs
Understanding your true total cost of ownership is of vital importance today as exponential data growth continues unabated. The days of just throwing more disk at storage capacity issues without any concern for cost are long gone. In fact, studies show that IT budgets on average are growing at less than 2.0% annually yet data growth is in the range of 30% to 60%. That’s a major disconnect! When compared to disk or cloud options, automated tape systems have the lowest TCO profile even for relatively low volumes of data less than one petabyte. And for larger workloads, the TCO is even more compelling. Thanks to LTO-9’s higher capacity and fast transfer rate, the efficiency of automated tape systems will improve keeping the TCO advantage firmly on tape’s side.

Lowest Energy Profile to Reduce Carbon Footprint
Perhaps of even greater concern these days are the environmental impacts of energy-intensive IT operations and their negative effect on global warming and climate change. You may have thought 2020 was a pretty bad year, being tied for the hottest year on record with 2016. Remember the raging forest fires out West or the frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms? Well, it turns out 2021 is just as bad if not worse with the Caldor Fire and Hurricane IDA fresh in our memory.

Tape technology has a major advantage in terms of energy consumption as tape systems require no energy unless tapes are being read or written to in a tape drive. Otherwise, tapes that are idle in a library slot or vaulted offsite consume no energy. As a result, the CO2 footprint is significantly lower than always on disk systems, constantly spinning and generating heat that needs to be cooled.  Studies show that tape systems consume 87% less energy and therefore produce 87% less CO2 than equivalent amounts of disk storage in the actual usage phase. More recent studies show that when you look at the total life cycle from raw materials and manufacturing to distribution, usage, and disposal, tape actually produces 95% less CO2 than disk.  When you consider that 60% to 80% of data quickly gets cold with the frequency of access dropping off after just 30, 60, or 90 days, it only makes sense to move that data from expensive, energy-intensive tiers of storage to inexpensive energy-efficient tiers like tape. The energy profile of tape only improves with higher capacity generations such as LTO-9.

 

A Last Line of Defense Against Cybercrime
Once again, 2021 is just as bad if not worse than 2020 when it comes to cybercrime and ransomware attacks. Every webinar you attend on this subject will say something to the effect of: “it’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when you will become the next ransomware victim.” The advice from the FBI is pretty clear: “Backup your data, system images, and configurations, test your backups, and keep backups offline.”

This is where the tape air gap plays an increasingly important role. Tape cartridges have always been designed to be easily removable and portable in support of any disaster recovery scenario. Thanks to the low total cost of ownership of today’s high-capacity automated tape systems, keeping a copy of mission-critical data offline, and preferably offsite, is economically feasible – especially considering the prevalence of ransomware attacks and the associated costs of recovery, ransom payments, lost revenue, profit, and fines.

In the event of a breach, organizations can retrieve a backup copy from tape systems, verify that it is free from ransomware and effectively recover. The high capacity of LTO-9 makes this process even more efficient, with fewer pieces of media moving to and from secure offsite locations.

The Strategic Choice for a Transforming World
LTO-9 is the “strategic” choice for organizations because using tape to address long-term data growth and volume is strategic, adding disk is simply a short-term tactical measure. It’s easy to just throw more disks at the problem of data growth, but if you are being strategic about it, you invest in a long-term tape solution.

The world is “transforming” amidst the COVID pandemic as everyone has to do more with less and budgets are tight, digital transformation has accelerated, and we are now firmly in the zettabyte age which means we have more data to manage efficiently, cost-effectively, and in an environmentally friendly way. The world is also transforming as new threats like cybercrime become a fact of life, not just a rare occurrence that happens to someone else. In this respect, LTO-9 indeed comes to market at the right time with the right features to meet all of these challenges.

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Hollywood Rebound and the 7 Starring Roles of LTO Tape

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July 14, 2021

By Tony Ling, Director of Sales, Fujifilm Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.

After the initial shock and disruption of the pandemic, one industry that has rebounded nicely is the world of Media & Entertainment (M&E). Hollywood, video production, and post-production companies have adapted to making films in a COVID environment. At the same time, streaming grew significantly with most of the population homebound. Services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Paramount all reported record subscriber growth over the last 15 months…..driving up the demand for new and original content.

Today, the retention and accessibility of digital assets and video content are incredibly vital to maintaining a competitive advantage. As a result, many modern M&E companies continue to assign starring roles to LTO data tape in their workflows to combat the rising expense associated with retaining and protecting capacity-intensive high-res content. 4K, 8K, 3D, and special effects can result in petabytes of storage for a single production!

With its high capacity, reliability, interchangeability, and security, the industry standard for deliverables has long been LTO tape…..this could be anything from daily camera footage, to post/edited work, approval copies, second copies, versions, final product, archival copies, etc. LTO tape is truly a defacto standard and an accepted part of the workflow in the M&E world.

Why are leading M&E companies turning to tape?

More M&E companies are recognizing 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. Tape’s starring roles include:

  • Extremely cost-effective with the lowest TCO in the industry
  • Highly reliable with best in class bit error rates
  • Secure with drive encryption and ease of offline storage to prevent cybercrime
  • Portable for file sharing between locations
  • Scalable to extremely large capacities with LTO-8 cartridge capacity now at 12.0 TB native and LTO-9 coming soon at 18.0 TB
  • Open LTFS standard to allow for easy interchange of files
  • Eco-friendly consuming 87% less energy than equal amounts of HDD

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.

So, the next time you are streaming Star Trek Discovery on Paramount+ or The Mandalorian on Disney+, just remember that somewhere along the way of the making of that show, an LTO tape played a starring role!

 

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Why Active Archiving is a Hot Concept in Storage Today

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May 19, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

The 2021 Active Archive Alliance annual market report has just been released, entitled “Saved by the Data. Active Archive Leads the Way in a Mid-Pandemic World”.

Certainly, the COVID pandemic was a shock to many companies and put tremendous strain on operations, revenue, and profit. But those companies who had already implemented a sensible active archive strategy were at a competitive advantage thanks to their ability to intelligently manage access to their data.

I think active archiving, the practice of keeping data online all the time and easily accessible to users, is a hot concept in storage right now because it is really about optimization – getting the right data in the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost.

We know that IT budgets are not keeping up with the relentless growth of data. We also know that 60% to 80% of data quickly becomes archival. Typically after 30, 60, or 90 days, files become static and the frequency of access drops off. So why keep that kind of data on expensive primary storage?

Why not let intelligent data management software that is typical of an active archive solution move that data by user-defined policy from high performance, expensive tiers, to lower performance but more cost-effective tiers like economy disk or tape systems, or even cloud? All while maintaining transparent access for users.

We know that the value of data is increasing, retention periods are getting longer, and users want to maintain ready access to their data without IT staff intervention. But we also need to worry about the bottom line, about efficiency, compliance, sustainability, and cybersecurity! Active archiving provides the right solutions to these worries and that’s why it is such a hot concept in storage today.

But enough said, read the full report here and check out what Alliance members had to say in their related virtual conference.

 

 

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Is Online Object Storage Really Immune to Ransomware? Achieving True Object Storage Immutability with Tape

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April 13, 2021

By Chris Kehoe, Head of Infrastructure Engineering, FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.

Object storage has many benefits. Near infinite capacity combined with good metadata capabilities and low cost have propelled it beyond its initial use cases of archiving and backup. More recently, it is being deployed as an aid to compute processing at the edge, in analytics, machine learning, disaster recovery, and regulatory compliance. However, one recent paper perhaps got a little over-enthusiastic in claiming that disk-based object storage provided an adequate safeguard against the threat of ransomware.

The basic idea proposed is that ransomware protection is achieved by having multiple copies of object data protecting against that kind of intrusion. If the object store suffers ransomware incursion, the backup is there for recovery purposes. The flaw in this logic, however, is that any technology that is online cannot be considered to be immune to ransomware. Unless it is the work of an insider, any attempt at hacking must enter via online resources. Any digital file or asset that is online – whether it stored in a NAS filer, a SAN array, or on object storage – is open to attack.

Keeping multiple copies of object storage is certainly a wise strategy and does offer a certain level of protection. But if those objects are online on disk, a persistent connection exists that can be compromised. Even in cases where spin-down disk is deployed, there still remains an automated electronic connection. As soon as a data request is made, therefore, the data is online and potentially exposed to the nefarious actions of cybercriminals.

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Tape Secures its Place in the Future of Enterprise Storage

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February 2, 2021

By Drew Robb

I recently read an article in StorageNewsletter entitled “End of Removable Storage Media” and I agreed with many of the points including the demise of removable consumer media such as floppies, zip disks, CDs and DVDs. But I disagree about tape being on the way out like the rest of removable media from the past.

Tape was pronounced dead by Data Domain about 15 years ago when deduplication first entered the scene. Yet tape has not only survived, it thrives, particularly in an enterprise setting. Tape capacity shipments have been rising steadily for more than a decade. A record 114,079 PB of total LTO tape capacity (compressed) shipped in 2019, about four times more than shipped in 2009.

Why is this?

Tape offers removability

In an era when data breaches are escalating, and ransomware wreaks havoc, having an air gap between data and the network has become increasingly important. Whether it is a box of tapes stored by Iron Mountain, or tapes kept on site for use in an automated tape library, physical tapes are easy to isolate from the network. This feature of removability also makes tape easy to scale as you only need to add fresh media for more capacity, not more controllers, disk arrays and supporting hardware. Finally, because of its removability, tape is easily transported by truck or plane between data centers or between clouds and will often be faster and cheaper than using expensive bandwidth.

Tape offers high capacity

The latest generation of LTO tape cartridges can hold 18 TB native and 45 TB compressed per cartridge. To put that in perspective, one cartridge can hold 61.2 years of video recording running 24 hours per day, 4.78 billion human genomes worth of sequence information, or 2.88 years of data transmissions from the Hubble Space Telescope. Even larger cartridges are on the near horizon.

Tape underpins the cloud

The dirty little secret of the big cloud providers is that they rely on tape for high-volume, low-cost storage. These providers harness tape to hold multiple PBs of data, as do a great many large financial institutions. But that doesn’t mean tape is only the province of the few. Anyone with 100 TB or more of data will find value and efficiency with tape. In fact, vendors such as XenData are beginning to offer appliances that make it affordable to use tape for smaller workloads.

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3 Big Takeaways from the Fujifilm and IBM 580TB Tape Demonstration

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January 19, 2021

By Rich Gadomski

In mid-December 2020, Fujifilm issued a press release to announce that, together with IBM Research, they had successfully achieved a record areal density of 317 Gbpsi (billion bits per square inch) on next-generation magnetic tape coated with next-generation Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) magnetic particles. This areal density achievement would yield an amazing native storage capacity of 580TB on a standard-sized data cartridge. That’s almost 50 times more capacity than what we have now with an LTO-8 tape based on Barium Ferrite (BaFe) at 12TB native.

Shortly after the news came out, I was on a call with a member of our sales team discussing the announcement and he asked me when the 580TB cartridge would be available and if there was any pricing information available yet? He was also curious about transfer speed performance. I had to admit that those details are still TBD, so he asked me “what are the 3 big takeaways” from the release? So let’s dive into what those takeaways are.

Tape has no fundamental technology roadblocks

To understand the magnitude of tape areal density being able to reach 317 Gbpsi, we have to understand just how small that is in comparison to HDD technology. Current HDD areal density is already at or above 1,000 Gbpsi while achieving 16TB to 20TB per drive on as many as nine disk platters. This level of areal density is approaching what is known as the “superparamagnetic limitation,” where the magnetic particle is so small that it starts to flip back and forth between positive and negative charge. Not ideal for long-term data preservation.

So to address this, HDD manufacturers have employed things like helium-filled drives to allow for closer spacing between disk platters that allow for more space for more platters, and therefore more capacity.  HDD manufacturers are also increasing capacity with new techniques for recording involving heat (HAMR) or microwaves (MAMR) and other techniques. As a result HDD capacities are expected to reach up to 50TB within the next five years or so. The reason tape can potentially reach dramatically higher capacities has to do with the fact that a tape cartridge contains over 1,000 meters of half-inch-wide tape, and, therefore, has far greater surface area than a stack of even eight or nine 3.5-inch disk platters.

But let’s also look at track density in addition to areal density. Think about the diameter of a single strand of human hair which is typically 100 microns wide. If a single data track on HDD is 50 nanometers wide, you are looking at 2,000 data tracks for HDD on the equivalent width of a single strand of human hair! For tape, with a track width of approximately 1,200 nanometers, you are looking at just 84 data tracks. But this is actually a positive for tape technology because it shows that tape has a lot of headroom in both areal density and track density, and that will lead to higher capacities and help to maintain a low TCO for tape.

But let me make it clear that this is not about HDD vs. tape. We are now in the zettabyte age having shipped just over an impressive one zettabyte (1,000 exabytes) of new storage capacity into the global market in 2019 of all media types. According to IDC, that number will balloon to a staggering 7.5 ZB by 2025. We will need a lot of HDDs and a lot of tape (and flash for that matter) to store 7.5 ZB!

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3 Reasons Why 2010 – 2020 was the Decade of Renaissance for Data Tape

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January 5, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism at FUJIFILM Recording Media, U.S.A., Inc.

The past 10 years have been marked by explosive data growth and demand for storage. Meanwhile, the tape industry has experienced a renaissance thanks to significant advancements in capacity, reliability, performance, and functionality that have led to new applications and key industry adoption. Here’s a look at some of the key milestones.

Capacity

  • In terms of capacity, the decade started for LTO with LTO-5 at 1.5 TB native capacity and culminated most recently with LTO-8 at 12.0 TB and LTO-9 soon to be delivered at 18.0 TB.
  • Enterprise tape formats started the decade at 1.0 TB native and are currently at 20.0 TB native.
  • Barium Ferrite magnetic particles became a key enabler for multi-terabyte tapes and were demonstrated by IBM and Fujifilm in 2015 to have the potential to achieve 220 TB on a single tape cartridge. This signaled that tape technology had no fundamental areal density limitations for the foreseeable future.
  • By the end of the decade, IBM and Fujifilm demonstrated the ability to achieve a record areal density of 317 GBPSI using the next generation of magnetic particles, Strontium Ferrite, with a potential cartridge capacity of 580 TB.

 

Reliability and Performance

  • During the decade, tape achieved the highest reliability rating as measured by Bit Error Rate at 1 x 1019, even better than enterprise HDD at 1 x 1016.
  • Data transfer rates for tape also improved from 140 MB/sec. in 2010 to an impressive 400 MB/sec.
  • LTFS provided an open tape file system with media partitions for faster “disk-like” access and ease of interchangeability, making LTO a de facto standard in the Media & Entertainment industry.

 

New Applications and Key Industry Adoption

  • Storing objects on tape became a reality with object archive software solutions offering S3 compatibility, objects can now move to and from tape libraries in their native object format.
  • The concept of active archiving grew in popularity with tape as a key component complementing flash, HDD and cloud for cost-effectively maintaining online archives.
  • Tape was recognized for its ease of removability and portability, providing air gap protection in the escalating war against cybercrime.
  • Major U.S. hyperscalers began to rely on tape during the decade for both back-up and deep archive applications. In one well-publicized example, Google restored a February 2011 Gmail outage from its tape backups. Microsoft adopted tape for Azure later in the decade. Tape became firmly established as a competitive advantage for these and other hyper scalers based on its scalability, long archival life, lowest TCO, low energy consumption, and air gap security.

 

With this steady technological advancement over the last decade, tape has been recognized for its complementary value to flash, HDD and cloud in tiered storage strategies for managing data in the zettabyte age.

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