FUJIFILM INSIGHTS BLOG

Data Storage

A Timely Report by IDC on Sustainable Data Storage Strategies

Reading Time: 3 minutes

October 20, 2021

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

If 2020 will be remembered for the global COVID pandemic, 2021 will hopefully be remembered as the year global warming and climate change took center stage. This year has certainly had more than its fair share of climate change-related natural disasters from extreme weather caused by a warming of the polar regions, to raging forest fires, to flooding across the globe. Consumers, governments, and organizations are taking notice and action. Carbon reduction pledges are being made as sustainability is now a strategic imperative for business leaders across all industries.

The Energy Intensive IT Industry

The IT industry is not exempt from sustainability mandates. The IT industry is said to consume 2% to 3% of the world’s electrical supply and this number is expected to rise in the years ahead amidst the rapid expansion of digital transformation and exponential data growth. Data centers are major consumers of energy and are looking for ways to become more sustainable.

The Need for Energy Conservation

A new IDC whitepaper, sponsored by Fujifilm,  entitled “Accelerating Green Datacenter Progress with Sustainable Storage Strategies”  provides an in-depth analysis of the significant energy savings and resulting CO2 emissions reduction that can be achieved by moving more data from energy-intensive storage mediums like hard disk drive arrays to environmentally friendly tape storage.

For data center operators, much focus has been placed on renewable sources of energy but renewables can’t come online fast enough or cheaply enough to keep up with digital transformation and the rapid growth of data. Therefore, energy conservation must also be the focus of every large data center operator.

Storing Zettabytes of Cold Data

The IDC report shows that data to be stored has grown from 2.0 zettabytes (ZB) in 2016 to 4.1 ZB in 2020 and is expected to reach 11.1 ZB in 2025. Just one ZB is a vast 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.

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 project 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. Tape does not consume any power unless being read or written to by a tape drive. As such, tape supports green data center initiatives with its ability to store data near-line in an active archive or offline without consuming power, and thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

Reducing CO2 Emissions with Tape

The IDC paper shows that in a certain scenario if more of the world’s data is appropriately designated as archival and migrated to tape, a 43.7% reduction in CO2 can be achieved over the forecast period. This equates to an avoidance of 664 million metric tons of CO2 (equal to CO2 produced by 144 million passenger vehicles in one year or 80 million homes in one year).

Company leaders should indeed evaluate all IT resources through a lens of sustainability. Doing so will uncover the environmental benefits of shifting more data to today’s modern and highly advanced tape storage.

For the complete details, you can access the full IDC report here.

 

 

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Taking Action Against Climate Change by Reducing CO2 Emissions with Eco-Friendly Tape Systems

Reading Time: 3 minutes

September 30, 2021

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

In early August of this year, a United Nations panel called the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)” issued a new report, the Sixth Assessment Report, on climate change and global warming. You can explore the lengthy and technical full report here. But in short, a few key headline statements from the report include:

  • It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere have occurred.
  • Global warming of 1.5 degrees C and 2.0 degrees C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.
  • Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions, and intense tropical cyclones as well as reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover, and permafrost.
  • Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets, and global sea level.

The U.N. report is pretty scary, especially that last bullet. But think about the severe weather events we experienced in 2020 only to be outdone by recent calamities in 2021 like the Texas deep freeze, the record heat in the Pacific Northwest, torrential floods in Europe, China and the U.S., extreme storms, not to mention the worsening forest fires.

A Time for IT to Take Action on Climate Change

We as a society, as individuals and as commercial organizations and governments need to take action. No effort is too small, even turning off a single light switch when not needed is worthwhile. Collectively we can make a difference.

The IT industry is no exception and needs to take action. Data centers are major consumers of energy amidst rapid and widespread digital transformation initiatives resulting in exponential data growth. While the IT industry has made significant strides in ramping up renewable sources of energy, it can’t come online fast enough or cheaply enough to make a big difference. What is also needed is energy conservation and storage is a good place to start.

Assessing the Eco-Friendly Advantages of Tape

Back in November of 2020 industry expert and consultant Brad Johns published a whitepaper on the energy advantage of today’s modern and highly advanced data tape systems. That paper, entitled “Reducing Data Center Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions with Modern Tape” showed:

  • Tape systems consume 87% less energy and therefore reduce CO2 emissions by 87% compared to equivalent capacities of HDD storage.
  • What’s more, the lower energy consumption of tape contributes to an 86% reduction in TCO.

More recently, Brad Johns did an even deeper dive into the energy advantage of tape in a second whitepaper on the subject entitled: “Improving Information Technology Sustainability with Modern Tape Storage.” This time, instead of just looking at energy consumption during the operational usage phase of tape vs. HDD, Brad decided to look at the energy consumption and environmental impact of tape vs. HDD from “cradle to grave.” That is to say, from sourcing of raw materials to manufacturing, to distribution, to usage, and disposal at end of life. Here are the key findings:

  • Tape produces 95% less CO2 than HDD during its lifecycle from manufacturing to disposal.
  • Electronic waste (e-waste) at the time of disposal is reduced by 80% for tape compared to HDD.
  • Ten-year TCO in this paper shows a 73% reduction for tape compared to HDD.

Brad also did a “what if” scenario as follows: what if industry best practices were truly observed and 60% of HDD data was moved to tape systems?

  • 72 million tons of CO2 would be avoided, a 57% reduction compared to keeping all the data on HDD!

To download this whitepaper for complete details, click here.

While simply using more tape for cold and inactive data won’t solve climate change or make scary U.N. reports go away, it certainly is a positive contribution to the global effort. We all need to do whatever we can so that collectively we can make a difference.

 

 

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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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Understanding Your True Cost of IT and Your Carbon Footprint

Reading Time: 4 minutes

August 24, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

I recently attended a webinar about why IT folks have a love/hate relationship with the cloud. They love the cloud because of its on-demand flexibility, unlimited compute and storage capacity, elimination of CAPEX costs, etc. They hate it, according to the webinar presenter, because of the cost that often produces “sticker shock.” Other irritants might include regulatory compliance issues and cyber security concerns.

To be completely fair to the cloud, the presenter explained that discipline and accountability could be brought to bear to help control costs and that organizations need to establish “a cloud center of excellence.” But at the same time, the presenter showed data from a study that suggested that 58% of respondents were moving some cloud-based workloads back to on-premises, private cloud environments. Finally, the presenter advised the audience to “understand your true cost of IT, TCO tools are out there!”

Getting Back to Hybrid Storage Strategies

I think the overall message of the webinar was that the cloud is great when used for the right applications and that a hybrid approach including a healthy mix of public cloud plus private cloud makes a lot of sense. In fact, the trend prior to COVID-19 appeared to be clearly hybrid. Cloud repatriation was happening as IT managers realized that the cloud is not a panacea for everything. During the COVID period, private cloud data centers were understaffed and under-supported by vendors, so the path of least resistance was to over-leverage the public cloud once again. As we begin to emerge from COVID lockdowns and IT staff returns to the data center, attention is being paid once again to finding a healthy mix of public cloud and on-premises private cloud.

This approach only makes sense and clearly reinforces that it is not an either-or scenario. In the case of storage, the cloud complements on-premises storage including today’s highly advanced and automated tape systems. Cloud comes in handy for example when on-demand access is frequently needed by multiple clients while tape systems can manage less frequently accessed and large data sets needing long-term retention including sensitive data and mission-critical data that can be air-gapped as a cyber security best practice. Tape is particularly well suited for these applications thanks to tape’s:

  • High capacity
  • Ease of scalability
  • Ease of removability
  • Long archival life and reliability
  • Low TCO
  • Low energy consumption and low carbon footprint

TCO Tools are Out There

Getting back to the webinar story and the advice to “understand your true cost of IT,” indeed TCO tools are out there and Fujifilm is pleased to offer a free, web-based interactive TCO tool developed by IT economics expert Brad Johns Consulting, LLC. This tool compares 5 year and 10 year TCO of automated tape systems to economy disk systems and cloud-based cold storage. The tool allows users to input the volume of data to be stored, the annual growth rate, the percent of cloud data retrieval as well as other variables such as the local cost per Kwh, the expense of full time storage management staff, number of copies of data, etc. The tool has been available for many years now and has evolved overtime to be as comprehensive as possible and includes the following CAPEX and OPEX cost variables:

  • Media and hardware for disk and tape
  • Maintenance for disk and tape
  • Energy for disk and tape
  • Offsite vaulting for tape
  • Storage management for disk, tape, and cloud
  • Storage and retrieval fees for cloud
  • Data transfer fees for cloud
  • Business level support for cloud

Reducing Energy Consumption and CO2 with Tape

Regarding the cost of energy for disk and tape, this expense can be significant over time especially for disk systems that are constantly spinning 24/7 generating heat and therefore require cooling. Given the heightened awareness of global warming and climate change, organizations are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption and their carbon footprint. Data center operations are no exception and have been spotlighted for their energy-intensive applications. Making greater use of renewable energy is part of the answer, but renewable energy can’t come online fast enough, or cheaply enough, to keep up with exponential data growth. Conservation has an even bigger potential to make a difference and that is where tape systems really shine.

Studies show that under certain scenarios inclusive of data management servers and network infrastructure, tape consumes 87% less energy than equivalent amounts of disk storage and therefore produces 87% less CO2 all while reducing TCO by 86% at the same time. Given that data quickly becomes static and frequency of access goes down dramatically after just 30 to 90 days, it makes sense to move that data from energy-intensive and higher cost tiers of storage like flash, performance disk, or even economy disk to lower-cost, energy-efficient tape systems. A good active archive architecture with intelligent data management software is a great way to achieve such storage optimization (getting the right data, in the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost).

To help highlight the energy advantage of tape and its reduction in CO2, the Fujifilm TCO tool now includes a calculation purely focused on the storage hardware layer that shows the reduction in CO2 compared to disk systems, with an example shown below based on storing 5.0 PB for 10 years with 30% annual growth and 12% data retrieval from the cloud.

So not only is TCO reduced with automated tape systems compared to disk and cloud storage, but a meaningful reduction in CO2 can be achieved and that is exactly what we all need to be doing to help slow down the negative impacts of global warming and climate change.

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From LTO-1 to LTO-8: Tape Manufacturing in Bedford, MA

Reading Time: 4 minutes

July 28, 2021

In this Q&A, we talk to Andy Feather, Sr. Director, Engineering & Technical Services at FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. about the company’s tape manufacturing process and robust sustainability efforts.

How long has Fujifilm been manufacturing LTO tapes in the U.S.?

We first started LTO tape manufacturing here in Bedford in September 2003.  This was the start of LTO-1 and we have made every generation since then up to the current LTO-8.

How has the manufacturing process changed over the years?

At the start of LTO production, as with most start-up manufacturing processes, it was a very manual process, over the years we have added more and more automation.  We’ve also refined our methods for controlling the manufacturing equipment so, for example, on the winding machines, we focus on preventive maintenance and sophisticated process control to monitor the quality during the tape winding process.  This allows us to reduce the dependence on testing cartridges after they have been wound.

In our packaging operations, we have focused on improvements for the environment.  We’ve introduced soy-based inks for all our printed materials and we’ve eliminated most of the paper instruction sheets and user labels.  We’ve switched to recycled paper and corrugated and reduced the thickness of the plastic cases.  In our latest “bulk” packaging design we have eliminated corrugated completely and reduced the use of plastic shrink film to the absolute bare minimum.

“Having our manufacturing facility in the U.S. allows us to respond quickly to any customer request.” – Andy Feather

What are the advantages of having a manufacturing facility located in the U.S.?

Having our manufacturing facility in the U.S. allows us to respond quickly to any customer request. Much of our production volume is customized with barcode labels specific to a customer’s order.  We can receive the order, custom print and apply the barcode labels, and then drop ship to any location in the U.S. within 48 hours.

Was Fujifilm’s manufacturing facility impacted by COVID?

As an essential business, our manufacturing facility has remained open through the pandemic.  Naturally, we took every precaution to ensure our employees remained safe, including providing masks and reorganizing the facility to accommodate for social distancing.  During the peak of the pandemic last year we minimized the number of staff on-site to just the critical manufacturing employees.  To achieve this we implemented working from home for as many of the administrative functions as possible.  We also implemented a strict visitor policy that ensured that only visitors essential to the ongoing functioning of the manufacturing facility was permitted on-site and while on-site all visitors were required to follow the COVID restrictions,

What changed during COVID and have you kept some of the new processes you may have implemented?

As the pandemic thankfully subsided in the fall of last year we were able to relax some of the restrictions and gradually bring more people back into the facility.  We still have people working from home and continue to social distance while in the facility.  With the experience from last year, we are looking at our work from home policy to allow continued flexibility for our employees where possible.

What are some of the green initiatives manufacturing has initiated?  

The solar panel installation project at our Bedford manufacturing facility began in response to a FUJIFILM corporate mission of energy conservation and Greenhouse gas reduction to address issues of climate change. With 1,870 solar modules, our solar installation has produced 2,977,000 kWh since its inception in November of 2013. That is the equivalent amount of energy used by 4,666 homes during an entire month. It is also the equivalent to a reduction of 1,787 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Over 20 years, this would equal the carbon sequestered by 7,280 acres of U.S. forest in one year.

In addition to our solar panels, we have just recently converted to LED lighting in our manufacturing facility. By converting to LED bulbs we will reduce our carbon footprint by approximately one-third, minimize daily maintenance work, decrease our UV emissions to zero and overall be more energy efficient. With over 3,000 bulbs replaced, we estimate a savings of 400,000 kWh this year!

Of course, tape is the greenest form of data storage available consuming 87% less energy than the equivalent hard drive storage.

What are some of the largest accomplishments manufacturing has achieved that you are particularly proud of?

Fujifilm continues to innovate the technology of LTO tape working with our OEM partners to further enhance the performance of LTO tape cartridges.  As each successive generation of LTO is released, tape cartridge capacity and performance increase which naturally imposes tighter and tighter requirements on the tape, the cartridge, and all the components that go into the product.  In manufacturing, we’ve been able to innovate the production processes to stay ahead of the technical challenges of manufacturing a product that operates in the realm of sub-nanometer tolerances. We’ve achieved this through a continual focus on automation and the dedication and expertise of our engineers and technical personnel.

 

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Hollywood Rebound and the 7 Starring Roles of LTO Tape

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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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Storage in the Age of Video Surveillance

Reading Time: 6 minutes

June 29, 2021

By Andrew Dodd, Guest Blogger, Worldwide Marketing Communications Manager
at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Storage

The presence of a ring of video surveillance cameras clinging to a vantage spot like a cluster of digital coconuts has long been a familiar sight in public spaces. And for many years, in both Hollywood and on television, countless storylines have turned on whether the detectives or investigators could access CCTV footage and solve the mystery by reviewing the tale of the tape.

But although the idea of cameras and surveillance has become an accepted feature of society (like it or not), what is less obvious perhaps is how much the market for video surveillance equipment is growing and how much the cameras themselves have changed. Both of these factors have profound implications for digital storage.

You had better be ready for your close up

First, the market. A 2020 report from IDC entitled “Worldwide Video Surveillance Camera Forecast, 2020-2025” (#US46230720) estimates that by 2025, the worldwide video surveillance camera market will grow to $44 billion, up from $23.6 billion in 2019, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 13%. This is largely due to the increasing adoption of smart camera systems and analytical software that enables them to be utilized in a variety of roles — beyond simple surveillance. Another report, by research firm IHS Markit, predicts that by the end of 2021 alone, there will be 1 billion surveillance cameras installed globally, with over 50% of those in a single country: China.

The growth of 4K

In the past, video surveillance cameras have sometimes been criticised both for their ubiquity and their usefulness: critics pointed out that although the cameras seemed to be proliferating in many public spaces, their benefit was undermined by poor image quality and resolution. Not any more. The next-gen cameras that are driving the growth to 2025 will increasingly deliver HD and Ultra HD (4K) images of astonishing detail and clarity. In turn, this is opening up a wealth of new applications that can be managed by artificial intelligence systems: for example, monitoring industrial equipment, providing security, and (more controversially) real-time facial recognition.

Why are cameras being deployed?

Many of today’s larger organizations such as hospitals, airports, university campuses, and casinos find themselves needing a video surveillance system as either a replacement for an aging CCTV installation or as a brand-new installation. The ability to quickly and easily provide high-resolution video evidence of a security incident can be very relevant in narrowing down suspects in case of a crime. And the same video evidence can also limit the liability of an organization in case of a lawsuit. So there are clearly business benefits in upgrading to the latest surveillance technology.

The storage challenge

But if the number of cameras is increasing rapidly, and if the quality of the images they produce is becoming more refined and detailed, then all of this can only mean one thing: we’re going to need a lot more storage. Gone are the days when weeks of footage could be kept on a handful of old videotapes that could be wiped and reused at the end of the month. In the first instance, today’s surveillance cameras record primarily record to disk. And a single hour of RAW 4K video footage produced by just one unit consumes something in the region of 110GB of disk capacity. Multiply this by millions of hours, and hundreds of millions of cameras, and it’s clear that video surveillance applications will require colossal amounts of storage, not just for the primary purpose of storing the original footage, but also for backing up and archiving that material.

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Top 7 Questions Cyber Insurance Companies Will Ask Applicants Seeking Risk Protection from Ransomware and Top 5 Best Practices to Qualify

Reading Time: 4 minutes

June 22, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

With the recent high-profile cases of ransomware hitting the news cycle like Colonial Pipeline, JBS and others, it appears ransomware is not going away anytime soon and may just be in its infancy. Ransomware is a lucrative business model for cybercriminals with ransom demands that can reach into the millions of dollars as was the case with Colonial ($4.4 M) and JBS ($11.0). Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) is making the barriers of entry extremely low, so we can expect to see more bad actors entering the business and more attacks across every industry.

The sense of urgency is ratcheting up as the C-suite is clearly focused on cybersecurity. I was speaking to one customer about deploying offsite/offline backup tapes as an air gap who said “Cybersecurity is the top focus for us in the next six weeks. We need to act fast”. In addition to shoring up cybersecurity plans, or putting key components in place, the notion of acquiring cyber insurance is cropping up and no doubt is also on the C-suite agenda.

So what is Cyber Insurance?

Cyber insurance, also referred to as cyber-liability insurance, seeks to help companies recover and mitigate the damage from cyberattacks such as ransomware, data destruction or theft, extortion demands, denial of service attacks, etc. This class of insurance has been around since the early 1990s and is rapidly evolving and growing in terms of revenue for insurance companies. One report I came across pegged the market for this type of insurance at $3.15 B in 2019 and is expected to rise to over $20 B by 2025. According to another report, about a third of all large U.S. companies carry cyber insurance.

Typical corporate insurance policies for general liability and property damage most likely don’t cover cybercrime, so cyber insurance has become a stand-alone offering specifically suited for cybercrime protection. Depending on the policy, below are just a handful of items that typically may be covered:

  • Incident response costs related to restoring systems to pre-existing conditions
  • Recovery cost of data or software that has been deleted or corrupted
  • The cost of cyber extortion including the negotiation and execution of ransom payments
  • Lost profits due to IT system downtime
  • Financial theft or fraud arising from the cyber attack
  • Physical asset damage
  • Data privacy liability

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Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Hack Reinforces the Need for a Tape Air Gap to Support 5 Best Practices Recommended by the FBI

Reading Time: 4 minutes

May 27, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

Ransomware attacks used to be relatively simple, if unpleasant, affairs. A device would be compromised, the user locked out, and a ransom notice would appear: Pay up if you want to access those files again. On an organizational level, hackers would sometimes gain enough presence in the network to be able to lock IT and users out of their systems. Many of these attacks would go largely unnoticed, even unreported with minimal impact to anyone except the victim organization.

But the Colonial Pipeline hack added a more sinister element – shutting down the pipeline backbone that provides 45% of the gasoline consumed by most of the U.S. eastern seaboard. Gas prices spiked as supplies began to run out. Lines appeared as panic set in at the pumps. The pipeline operator acted quickly and made a ransom payment of $4.4 million dollars in bitcoin to the cybercriminals behind the breach. In return, they provided Colonial with a decryption tool to regain access to their systems. Not surprisingly, the decryption tool turned out to be less than effective, forcing Colonial to restore from existing backups anyway.

But the success of the attack and money paid over is likely to embolden hackers to go after even more lucrative infrastructure targets. That’s why the FBI strongly advises organizations not to pay a ransom. It’s not unlike the policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. Paying the ransom not only emboldens the criminals, it does not guarantee complete recovery or prevent repeated ransomware attacks. The more you give in to their demands, the more likely they are to try again.

But Colonial Pipeline paid after careful consideration of what was best for all those that depend on its infrastructure. Some are now wondering if the FBI will carry out its threat to fine Colonial and those who do decide to pay out a ransom. This remains to be seen. Yet, in the high-stakes game of oil and gas, any fine is likely to be no more than a minor inconvenience compared to the potential revenue and profits at risk – perhaps one of the motivations behind the company paying fairly soon after the attack.

Brazen Attacks on the Rise

Expect, then, even more brazen and perhaps costly attacks on U.S. infrastructure, government, industry, and essential services. Remember the SolarWinds saga from earlier in the year? The vulnerabilities of the U.S. Government and its software contractors exposed in this case prompted the White House executive order on “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity” issued on May 12th.  The fall-out from the Colonial Pipeline attack will likely lead to stiffer regulations imposed on pipeline operators and other critical infrastructure players. The broader market needs to pay attention, too, as the frequency of ransomware continues to rise:

  • Department of Homeland Security figures show a 300% increase in ransomware in 2020 compared to the previous year.
  • Small business targets paid out $350 million in ransoms last year.
  • Attacks on schools, local government systems, and healthcare providers have risen sharply.
  • And the volume of ransomware victims is expected to rise sharply this year.

Most organizations are understandably far more focused on their primary mission than on instituting cybersecurity measures. This often makes them easy targets. All it takes is one slip by IT or one gullible user and the bad guys can move in and do their damage. Increasingly, that damage involves ransomware.

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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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