FUJIFILM INSIGHTS BLOG

Data Storage

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

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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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5 Key Data Tape Storage Trends for 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

January 13, 2021

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

The past decade saw the renaissance of data tape technology with dramatic improvements to capacity, reliability, performance, and TCO giving rise to new industry adoptions and functionality. This trend will only continue in 2021 as data storage and archival needs in the post-COVID digital economy demand exactly what tape has to offer. Below are 5 key contributions tape will make to the storage industry in 2021.

Containing the Growing Cost of Storage
One lingering effect of the pandemic will be the need for more cost containment in already budget-strapped IT operations. We are well into the “zettabyte age,” and storing more data with tighter budgets will be more important than ever. Businesses will need to take an intelligent and data-centric approach to storage to make sure the right data is in the right place at the right time. This will mean storage optimization and tiering where high capacity, low-cost tape plays a critical role — especially in active archive environments.

A Best Practice in Fighting Ransomware
One of many negative side effects of COVID-19 has been the increasing activity of ransomware attacks, not only in the healthcare industry which is most vulnerable at this time, but across many industries, everywhere.  Backup and DR vendors are no doubt adding sophisticated new anti-ransomware features to their software that can help mitigate the impact and expedite recovery. But as a last line of defense, removable tape media will increasingly provide air-gap protection in 2021, just in case the bad actors are one step ahead of the good guys.

Compatibility with Object Storage
Object storage is rapidly growing thanks to its S3 compatibility, scalability, relatively low cost and ease of search and access. But even object storage content eventually goes cold, so why keep that content on more expensive, energy-intensive HDD systems? This is where tape will play an increasing role in 2021, freeing up capacity on object storage systems by moving that content to a less expensive tape tier all while maintaining the native object format on tape.

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

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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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Fujifilm’s Tape Evangelist on The Future of Tape Storage

Reading Time: 4 minutes

December 18, 2020

In this Executive Q&A, Rich Gadomski, Fujifilm’s Head of Tape Evangelism, discusses the evolution of tape storage and how recent innovations and advancements in tape technology are putting it at center stage.

Explain your role as Tape Evangelist for FUJIFILM Recording Media, U.S.A.

I believe tape technology has a compelling value proposition and a great story to tell. I want to be focused on telling that story and that is my primary role. Of course, it takes a team and we all do our part, but this is what I’m passionate about and want to focus on.

How has the tape storage industry changed over the years?

Tape technology has come a long way since its introduction in the 1950s where we had reel-to-reel tape that could hold just a few megabytes of data. Today we have LTO tape in the market at 12 TB native and enterprise tape at 20TB. Just looking at LTO which came out 20 years ago, it was LTO Gen 1 in 2000 with 100GB of capacity. We expect LTO-9 soon at 18TB so a 180x increase. And just recently we announced a joint demonstration with IBM showing that we can reach up to 580 TB on a single cartridge with our next generation of magnetic particle called Strontium Ferrite. But it’s not just about capacity increases, tape has also made advancements in transfer rate, now faster than HDD, reliability rating, now three or four magnitudes better than HDD and it’s the greenest form of storage consuming far less energy than constantly spinning HDD and this contributes to its lowest total cost of ownership. But today it’s not about tape vs. HDD, in fact, the two technologies complement each other to help customers optimize their data storage.

Why is tape storage still relevant today? What is driving demand for this technology?

I would say first and foremost the incredible amount of data that’s being created in this digital economy. Add to the fact that the value of data is increasing so we want to store more of it for longer periods of time. Yet, IT budgets are flat or barely increasing, so you need a high capacity, highly reliable storage media that is cost-effective for long-term storage and that’s what tape gives you. So tape plays a role in cold archiving, active archiving and yes, backup as well. In fact, tape has renewed interest from customers in the fight against cybercrime and ransomware since customers can easily backup to tape and remove those backups from the network to an isolated and secure location that hackers can’t get to. That’s what we refer to as the tape air gap. Last but not least is energy consumption. Society is rightfully concerned about climate change. Tape consumes 87% less energy than disk and that leads to 87% less CO2 emissions.

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Tape Storage vs. Disk Storage: Getting the Facts Straight about Total Cost of Ownership Calculations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

December 10, 2020

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

Modern tape storage has long been recognized for its low cost. Several analyst white papers have been published that demonstrate the low cost of storing data on tape. For example, “Quantifying the Economic Benefits of LTO-8 Technology” is a white paper that can be found on the LTO.org website. However, occasionally a storage solution provider publishes a white paper that claims to show that their solution is less expensive than tape storage for a particular use case. A good example is a recent white paper published by a disk-based backup-as-a-service provider who will remain unidentified out of respect for what they do. For the purpose of this blog, let’s call them “BaaS.” So let’s dig into their analysis which makes several assumptions that result in higher costs for tape storage than most users would experience.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Process

The first step in developing a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) estimate is the determination of the amount of data to be stored. The BaaS whitepaper separates the amount of primary data, which we wish to protect, from backup data, which is the data physically stored on the backup media. They estimate the amount of backup data residing in the tape library to be two to four times the primary data. This is due to their use of the old daily/ weekly/monthly/ full backup methodology for estimating the amount of backup data. The result is that two to four times the amount of primary data ends up being stored on tape, raising the tape hardware and media costs by two to four times.

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Tape Has Become a Strategic Imperative in the Mass Storage Landscape

Reading Time: < 1 minute

December 3, 2020

By Rich Gadomski

Modern data tape continues to be fueled by significant technological and architectural innovations that reinforce its ability to deliver low-cost storage with high capacity and faster data transfer rates. The Tape Storage Council released its 2020 State of the Industry Report featuring new insights into the capabilities and benefits of tape storage in addressing the ever-increasing growth of data.

Highlights from the report include the following:

Tape Addresses Storage-Intensive Applications and Workflows
Tape is addressing the storage and data security requirements for Big Data, cloud storage services, entertainment, hyperscale computing, IoT, and surveillance that are all projected to drive enormous high-value storage demand.

Growing Role in Hyperscale, Hyperscale Lite and Cloud Environments
As data continues to grow, hyperscale and cloud suppliers are integrating tape storage devices into cloud infrastructure to achieve cost containment and address enormous energy concerns.

Object Storage and Tape Combine to Address Archival Demand
Simple, long-term, data storage management with low-cost, long-lived tape automation allows for objects and metadata to be efficiently read and written on tape in its native form. Cloud providers are using object storage solutions for their archive services storing large amounts of archival data, cost-efficiently on tape.

Access the full report here: Tape Has Become a Strategic Imperative in the Mass Storage Landscape.

 

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Modern Tape Storage Provides Key to Reducing Data Center Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions

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Organizations across all industries are concerned about global warming and are actively looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions.  As a result, many companies have decided they must incorporate carbon reductions into their strategies and have announced green initiatives.

Fortunately for IT organizations, there is a significant opportunity to achieve meaningful carbon emissions reductions while lowering operational and capital expenses by changing the way they store their data. Researchers estimate that data centers consume 1.8% of all electricity in the United States. Within the data centers, data storage is a significant portion of total energy usage and disk systems are the primary driver of storage energy consumption.

It is estimated that up to 60% of stored information is seldom accessed, meaning that the expectation of access diminishes after 30 days. By identifying this “cold data” and moving it to modern tape storage, organizations can dramatically reduce energy consumption and associated carbon emissions while also lowering data center capital and operational expenses.

To learn more on this topic, check out this white paper from Brad Johns Consulting, “Reducing Data Center Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions with Modern Tape Storage.

 

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Ransomware Not Going Away, Air-Gapped Tape Helps Solve the Problem

Reading Time: 4 minutes

November 4, 2020

By Rich Gadomski, Fujifilm, and Paul Lupino and Tom Trela, Iron Mountain

It was not long ago that ransomware threats caught the attention of the nation when WannaCry burst onto the scene and was widely covered in the press in May of 2017. Fast forward to the COVID era of today, as morning TV shows are featuring news that healthcare providers and hospitals are under increasing ransomware attacks due to their vulnerability at a time when these providers are otherwise overwhelmed, fighting a stubborn pandemic that does not want to go quietly into the night.

The threat against the healthcare sector prompted an alert on October 28th from CISA (Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency) entitled “Ransomware Activity Targeting the Healthcare and Public Health Sector.” The introduction reads: “This joint cybersecurity advisory was coauthored by CISA, the FBI and the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS)…and describes the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by cybercriminals against targets in the Healthcare and Public Health Sector to infect systems with ransomware, notably Ryuk and Conti, for financial gain. CISA, FBI and HHS have credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.”

That’s chilling. Most organizations can’t effectively operate without their computer systems or data. Hospitals are no different with the safety and well-being of patients hanging in the balance.

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Tape Performance Accelerates

Reading Time: 2 minutes

November 2, 2020

The tape industry is making significant performance strides by delivering much faster initial access times and throughput levels with the arrival of the Active Archive, RAO, TAOS, LTFS, much faster data rates, and RAIT capabilities. For all the amazing technological progress made for the traditional data centers, hyperscale, and cloud computing, the fundamental challenges of reliably transferring large files and bulk data volumes at high speeds to different geographic locations continue to be problematic.

Moving large amounts of streaming data, archives, images, video/audio streams, teleconferencing, telemedicine, scientific data capture, and large-scale disaster recovery scenarios is performed much faster on high-speed modern tape than other digital technologies. Cloud egress and ingress is slow using network bandwidth and can become cost-prohibitive, taking days or even weeks compared to moving the same amount of data on removable tape media via truck or airplane. Since tape media is readily portable, using tape for cloud storage can be highly advantageous if a CSP (Cloud Service Provider) shuts down or should you want to quickly move your entire digital archive media to another provider.

These trends and scenarios present a growing mass transit problem for bulk data movement – if it weren’t for the tape industry’s renewed focus on performance and throughput. This report will examine several new performance capabilities for improving tape access and data transfer times.

For more information, check out this Horison Information Strategies White Paper “Tape Performance Accelerates: Access Time and Throughput Takeoff.”

 

 

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Tiered Storage: Building the Optimal Storage Infrastructure

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October 21, 2020

Fortunately, as data continues to grow exponentially, the selection of data storage technologies has never been more robust. The choice of what storage device to use for which application at a given point in time is a balancing act making trade-offs between frequency of access (performance), cost, and capacity. Storage tiering has become a key strategy that lets you optimize the use of storage resources, save costs and make the best use of storage technology for each data classification. The foundations of tiered storage had their beginnings over 30 years ago when disk, automated tape libraries and advanced policy-based data management software such as (HSM) combined to effectively migrate less-active data to less expensive storage devices.

Tiered storage integrates hardware and storage management software to provide a seamless operation and for customers to realize the huge TCO and ROI economic benefits available from optimized storage implementations. The business case for implementing tiered storage is compelling and becomes increasingly so as storage pools get larger. Today’s storage tiers offer several technologies ranging from ultra-high capacity, low cost storage at one end of the hierarchy to very high levels of performance and functionality and at the other. The non-stop, increasing growth of data will require the continual evolution of new, more advanced approaches to tiered storage and management capabilities.

For more information, check out this Horison Information Strategies White Paper “Tiered Storage: Building the Optimal Storage Infrastructure.”

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