Data Storage

There is New Value in Old Data Amid AI/ML Boom

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Executive Q & A with Chuck Sobey, Chief Scientist of ChannelScience

Q1: Welcome, Chuck, to this Fujifilm Insights Executive Q & A! Please tell us a bit about your role and responsibility as Chief Scientist at ChannelScience.

Ans: Thank you, Rich – I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you.

ChannelScience is the consulting firm I started in 1996 to provide R&D services for emerging memory and storage technologies. At that time, the Internet boom was just starting and the fear of Y2K was building. My initial focus was hard disk drive (HDD) technology. This grew from my prior experience as a designer of thin film magnetic recording heads for HDDs at Applied Magnetics, near Santa Barbara; and then as a read channel architect at Texas Instruments, in Dallas. Data storage technology was growing even faster than semiconductors at that time, so it was an exciting field.

To promote my consulting work, I wrote storage technology classes for KnowledgeTek and taught them at practically every company related to data storage over the next two decades. This enabled me to engage with large and small companies to help them develop a wide variety of novel storage innovations. These spanned from ever-smaller HDDs, to laser optical tape, to solid-state memory and storage.

My current responsibilities at ChannelScience include staying current with the state-of-the-art in storage and memory, signal processing, and error correction coding (ECC), and connecting with customers to help develop their new technologies and prepare them for the market. We are also early proponents of semiconductor chiplets and offer pathfinding and strategy consulting on this rapidly growing technology.

Q2: Can you tell us about the breakthrough work you are doing in recovery of old data from obsolete tape stock?

Ans: The “state-of-the-art” of recovering legacy data formats is to locate several vintage drives (often on eBay) and scavenge/refurbish them to make one working drive.  There are several challenges with this, in addition to finding and refurbishing the drives. A sufficient supply of vintage heads and rollers must be secured, because these wear out with use. Operators and technicians must be trained to work with a wide variety of drives that do not have support.

I often point out that if you refurbish a 1970s tape drive, when you have done a perfect job what you have is a 1970s tape drive. Unfortunately, the 50-year-old vintage tapes are no longer in original condition, so this performance level can be insufficient. That said, it is remarkable how well properly-cared-for tapes have held up. It is my belief that some of what we are learning about decaying magnetic patterns on tapes can be used to continue the improvement of modern tape and drive development.

Based on this state-of-the-art, we recognized that a modern, multi-format tape reader that could read vintage tapes better than the original equipment would address all of these issues. With my background in head design and read channel signal processing, the answer was clear to me: Use modern, sensitive magnetoresistive (MR) heads and pair them with the latest signal processing algorithms for data detection. Furthermore, with such sensitive heads, we believed we could have minimal contact between the head and tape and still get sufficient signal fidelity for improved detection. Minimal contact means we are gentler with delicate tapes, and the system may need less-frequent head cleaning.

Furthermore, ChannelScience had already developed methods for extreme recoveries for HDDs, DVDs, and solid-state drives (SSDs) and flash (see links below).


http://www.channelscience.com/files/Drive%20Independent%20Data%20Recovery%20Sobey%20Orto%20Sakaguchi%20TMRC%202005%20D5%20PREPRINT.pdf ]

Q3:  What was the genesis of your multi-format “Do-No-Harm” legacy tape reader?

Ans: During the pandemic, a Department of Energy (DOE) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA, DE-FOA-0002360, issued December 14, 2020) was published that was seeking proposals for “Digitizing and Analyzing Legacy Seismo-Acoustic Data.” It was from DOE’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1996, and the last tests in the US were conducted in 1992. A wealth of seismic data was recorded for each test. This information went to two places: Paper graphs and 9-track tape. These test results now represent irreproducible scientific data. Other types of irreproducible data are from scientific instruments that no longer exist, such as specific particle accelerators, telescopes, or seismic exploration of no-longer-accessible locations.

These data sets have new value now – more than they did decades ago – for a simple reason: AI/ML. It is now possible to examine the entire corpus of data for a range of experiments and train and refine new machine learning (ML) models to do new science and make better predictions and classifications. For example, the ability to distinguish a rogue nuclear detonation from an earthquake or a mine excavating explosion can be vastly improved.

We are grateful for the support of the Department of Energy for our tape reader project. They awarded us three SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grants to develop our breakthrough technologies. We received a Phase I award (DE-SC0021850) to apply machine learning to waveforms from damaged tapes. And we received Phase I and Phase II awards (DE-SC0021879) to develop the prototype of our multi-format legacy tape reader. DOE also provided excellent business training through their Energy I-corps and Phase Shift programs.

We are now seeking first customers to fund the productization of our prototype. What we currently have is a scientific instrument that is operated by Ph.D. scientists. Our next step is to turn this into a robust product that can be shipped and used by adequately trained operators and technicians. If we are successful with our product, we can “make obsolete media obsolete!”

 [At right is the Current ChannelScience Multi-format Legacy Tape Reader prototype, shown with 1” analog instrumentation tape mounted.]

Q4: Beyond the value for AI/ML, what other applications are there and what type of organizations might be interested in this unique capability?

Ans: The ability to train and refine AI/ML models on rare data sets is certainly the driver for this funding. There are many types of irreproducible experiments that organizations want to use data from. In addition to nuclear weapons tests, these include particle accelerator data, telemetry from space missions, medical records, demographics, business records, and many others.

Another area that I believe may have even more potential, is audio and video tape. Although there are many vintage units still available, they are getting scarcer, and key components are wearing out. As always, the data is deteriorating, so better signal fidelity and signal processing than the vintage equipment can provide are needed. The image below shows the resolution we are able to get out of our prototype system. We can resolve individual transitions and the inter-track gaps.

[Magnetic force microscope-like image of a 9-track ½” digital data tape, created from ChannelScience’s prototype multi-format tape reader.]

Surprisingly, international diplomacy is another area where we’ve discovered unique opportunities. For example, there is a wealth of under-utilized data in former Eastern Bloc countries. It is stored in non-Western formats and there has been much less focus on recovering these rare data sets. With targeted development, we are confident that our tape reader can recover any such legacy data. Providing technology to access a country’s valuable legacy data is a diplomatic approach the US Department of State has used in the past.

Another unique opportunity, “sovereign AI,” was described by Jensen Huang (CEO of NVIDIA) in a recent interview. He envisions every country training its own large language model (LLM, like ChatGPT), based on their language, laws, customs, and unique history. This will need as much of each country’s legacy data as possible for training.  

Q5: Where can readers get more information about this innovative solution?

Ans: A direct link to an overview slide deck is here.  We will be adding more information to our website over time. A YouTube video of my recent talk at the Vintage Computer Festival Southwest was just posted.

In addition, I share new information on LinkedIn. For example, I have posted some behind-the-scenes photos of my recent visits to George Blood, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian. I invite your readers to connect with me at https://linkedin.com/in/ChuckSobey  

Q6: You are also deeply involved in one of the largest IT Trade Shows out there, Flash Memory Summit, now known as “FMS: the Future of Memory and Storage.” What can you tell us about FMS and how FMS is evolving?

Ans: 2024 is the 18th year of FMS. I have been the General Chair since 2017 and an organizer and advisor for several years before that. Registration is open now for this August 6-8, 2024, event at the Santa Clara Convention Center (SCCC).

I’d like to thank you, Rich, for your help this year, and last, in putting together our cold data and archive sessions. People like you are helping us expand our scope beyond flash (hence, the name-change to simply “FMS”). Our coverage now includes DRAM, HDD, tape, and many other emerging nonvolatile memory technologies – from MRAM to DNA – as well as the applications, such as AI, that continue to drive their adoption. We believe FMS is a special show, where old friends and new meet to reconnect and move the industry forward. It is the best networking opportunity in the industry.

Coming out of the pandemic, I co-founded another growing IT event, Chiplet Summit. We will hold our 3rd annual event at SCCC on January 21-23, 2025. It is exciting to help this hardware development method expand and grow into a new ecosystem for the rapid development and deployment of leading-edge semiconductor process technologies.

I invite your readers to attend both of these events!

Q7: Finally, when you are not slaving away for Channel Science or FMS or Chiplet Summit, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Ans: You are right that there is not much free time! However, when both time and Texas weather permit, I try to go mountain biking. That is harder than in sounds in Plano, which in Spanish means flat! I also love playing with and training our two wonderful German Shepherd Dogs.

[Ina and Lola preparing for another game of tag.]

Thanks for your time, Chuck, and we wish you a lot of success with your legacy tape reader, FMS, and Chiplet Summit!

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Why LTO Data Tape is a Perfect Fit for the Massive Video Surveillance Market

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Executive Q & A with Jay Jason Bartlett, CEO, Cozaint

Q1: Welcome Jay to this Fujifilm Insights Executive Q & A! Please tell us a bit about your role and responsibility as CEO of Cozaint.

Ans:  Thanks Rich for the invite. I head up a great team of engineers and professionals that have a ton of experience with intelligent surveillance solutions, product development, data storage, and physical security. I’m fortunate to drive the efforts of Cozaint and help this team deliver a market disruptive video surveillance storage solution.

Q2: So, you are pioneering the use of today’s modern LTO data tape for video surveillance content retention. Wasn’t tape the defacto standard before HDDs took over?

Ans: Well, VHS tape was indeed the defacto storage media back in the analog days of video surveillance, say before 2012, when it largely became the domain of HDDs However, we are pushing an innovative new use of LTO data tape media within the video surveillance market to address today’s pain points of high cost and energy intensive HDDs.

Cozaint has a patent-pending on implementing LTO data tape storage in a video surveillance infrastructure in such a way that the video management software (VMS) is able to recall and playback -all- recorded video, without any extra steps or IT personnel needed.

And yes, we do believe this is a ground-breaking approach to utilize VMS aware LTO data tape in the video surveillance market.

Q3:  What is different about today’s market compared to 2016 when LTO was tried in the VS market?


Because so many managers and executives at organizations with responsibility of the physical security / video surveillance infrastructure have been around for a while, when the word ‘tape’ storage is used, modern LTO-9 data tape technology gets confused with old-fashion analog VHS tape storage.

And with the advances in LTO technology, today with LTO-9 digital data tape having a capacity of 18-Terabytes on a single cartridge, the ability to record, store, and manage large amounts of video data on inexpensive and eco-friendly LTO data cartridges is a significant advancement. It solves for higher resolution cameras and longer retention periods for things like AI analytics.

In years past, vendors did try to use LTO in the video surveillance market and some do today but purely for very long-term archive. However, those IT professionals didn’t really have an in-depth understanding of how video needed to be available for easy playback, more of a warm active archive rather than a cold archive use case. Therefore, the implementations were more IT centric instead of video surveillance operations centric. Unfortunately, those prior attempts to use LTO were met with resistance by the users and operators of those VMS systems. They really needed seamless performance when pulling content from an HDD tier or a tape tier.

Another huge difference from 2016 video storage and today’s systems is how ESG or “green” solutions are more important. How much a video storage system eats up in energy costs and cooling costs and management costs has skyrocketed. This is yet another advantage for LTO as there is absolutely no ‘greener’ storage media than LTO. The TCO costs savings should make anyone give such an LTO solution a long serious look.

Q4: You said LTO tape must be VMS aware, what does that mean?


Cozaint has learned from those previous attempts to utilize LTO that the center of the universe of any video surveillance infrastructure is the video management software (VMS). Meaning, that the user / operator of the VMS that is needing to recall and playback recorded video, needs to do so directly and easily via the VMS software ‘timeline’ feature.

This timeline is where the VMS operator will scroll back and forth (some call it scrubbing the timeline) to search for the event of interest within the recorded video.

Unlike other systems, such as video editing tools in the media and entertainment industry, the VMS operator really does not know what or where they are looking. They have a general idea, but need to bounce around the VMS timeline to find the event.

This timeline scrubbing creates a specific challenge for video storage when attempting to implement LTO storage. The VMS and the underlying infrastructure need to be flexible enough, yet sophisticated enough, to know where the video of interest could be stored on a number of LTO tapes and then be able to quickly load and seek the video.

This is where LTO storage libraries come into focus within such an infrastructure. With multiple LTO drives available in various size LTO libraries, with LTO cartridge ‘slots’ within such a library (think of a classic record jukebox), the ability to quickly find the needed video is significantly faster.

This LTO library with multiple LTO drive capabilities delivers a level of scalability that is just not affordable in a hard-disk only video storage system.

And this scalability is what provides for a dramatically lower cost to store video with LTO.

Q5: Tell us about Marcia and how is it a breakthrough enabler for LTO to work in the VS industry?


Cozaint’s MARCIA™ middleware software sits behind any file-based VMS system and manages a multiple tier storage infrastructure, for example HDD + LTO. Again, with years of understanding how video surveillance storage is managed, we have learned that the ideal set-up is a two-tier storage approach.

The first tier of storage is hard-disk based to allow the VMS operator to recall and playback their most recent recorded video. The customer / organization can determine the retention period they need for their operations with, let’s call it instant gratification in video playback, tier 1 and then all the video recordings being held on tier 2 consisting of LTO scalable storage.

A large expense/cost of a video surveillance infrastructure is in the hard-disk storage portion of the overall solution. Even though hard drives seem “cheap” – when you start needing more than a couple hundred terabytes of video storage, the hard disk storage becomes expensive quickly. Not to mention power and cooling.

Therefore, when we create a 2-tier video storage solution with minimal hard disk storage and scalable LTO storage, we can deliver a significantly more affordable system.

MARCIA is the middleware that manages all of this multi-tier storage so that the VMS operator does not need to think about where any of their video is recorded and stored. MARCIA keeps track of what is on tier 1 and tier 2 and quickly loads and plays the video the operator is requesting. And as the operator ‘bounces around the timeline’ MARCIA is able to deliver the requested video either instantly as in a typical solution or within just a couple of minutes if the video is located on LTO.

What this really delivers for the organization is better outcomes for the overall usage of the recorded video surveillance. If you think about why you are doing the video recordings in the first place, being able to quickly and easily recall and playback video is important.

More important is the quality of that recorded video. As soon as the industry moved from those analog VHS tapes, the hard-disk based video storage vendors have been coercing compromises in the video quality to make up for the expensive costs of hard disk storage.

Motion-only based recordings; low-frame rate recordings; low-resolution recordings even from very high-resolution cameras. All of these “normal” practices in video surveillance recording are being compromised because of the expense of hard-disk based storage systems.

It’s actually quite amazing how users have just become desensitized to these poor-quality compromises.

Q6: Any idea how much HDD capacity is shipped into the global market just for VS data retention?


According to IDC, the capacity shipments of HDD into video surveillance applications in 2021 were 111 Exabytes, about 8.0% of total HDD shipments, followed by 79 EB or 7% in 2022 and estimated at 100 EB or about 7.5% in 2023.

By comparison, LTO capacity shipments in 2023 were 153 EB with 2.5X compression, so maybe 65 EB native? Therefore, the HDD market just for VS applications is larger than the entire LTO market.

That’s a lot of video data.  And we want to help organizations record, store, and manage that video in the most cost-efficient way possible. While making it easy to playback at the same time.   I think we have solved that issue.

Q7: Where can readers find more information about your solutions?

Ans: Sure, just go to www.cozaint.com and also check out the VS TCO calculator comparing the cost of VS retention with and without LTO at: www.bradjohnsconsulting.com/vs-tco

Q8: Finally, when you are not slaving away for Cozaint, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?


It’s hard to believe we have been building Cozaint for over six years now and in the video surveillance industry since 2008. I’m obviously older now and my joy of being on a basketball court or out on the water on a sailboat has been replaced with three wonderful adult children and their spouses and now four adorable grandchildren. There really is nothing better than being “Papa.”

Thanks for your time Jay, and we wish you a lot of success with your software and getting LTO seeded in the Video Surveillance market!

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ISC West 24 Reveals Pain Points of Video Surveillance Retention and How LTO Data Tape with Cozaint’s Marcia is Part of the Solution

Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism, FUJIFILM Data Storage Solutions

The International Security Conference held its annual west coast trade show in Las Vegas on April 10 -12. ISC West is the premier showcase for the latest innovations and solutions spanning a broad range of security technologies for security professionals, system integrators, manufacturers and consultants. This year’s expo featured some 700 exhibitors and more than 35,000 eager attendees who crowded the aisles and booths and created long lines everywhere. In a nutshell, the show was red-hot with lots of cool stuff to see and learn about.

No Shortage of Innovative Video Surveillance Solutions

ISC West is more than just video surveillance. One might be amazed by things like gunshot detection or anti-drone devices for example. But video surveillance (VS) is a big part of the show. Below are just some of the evolving VS capabilities and innovations:

AI-Powered Analytics: Advanced video surveillance systems are leveraging artificial intelligence for real-time video analytics, object recognition, and behavior analysis. These systems can automatically detect and alert for potential security threats, suspicious activities, or anomalies. One amazing, albeit sad example of “object recognition” is the capability of AI to recognize a firearm, say amid a crowded hall of high school students on lunch break.

High-Resolution Imaging: Surveillance cameras continue to morph in size, shape and capabilities with continued advancements in high-resolution imaging technologies, including data intensive 4K, 8K and even 12K resolution cameras. These increasingly affordable cameras provide clearer and more detailed video footage for enhanced surveillance and forensic analysis. VS cameras even come in “explosion proof” versions, meaning that their electronics are insulated so they can’t spark an explosion in highly flammable environments like oil and chemical refining for example.

360-Degree Cameras: Security pros are increasing adoption of 360-degree cameras and panoramic video surveillance solutions, which offer comprehensive coverage and eliminate blind spots in large areas or challenging environments.

Edge Computing: Surveillance cameras are a classic example of an “edge” device and integration of edge computing capabilities into video surveillance devices, enable on-device processing for faster response times, reduced bandwidth requirements, and improved overall system efficiency.

Integration with IoT and Smart Devices: Also becoming more commonplace now is the integration of video surveillance systems with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and smart sensors for enhanced environment awareness and proactive security measures. This could include integration with access control systems, environmental sensors, and other IoT devices to create a more comprehensive security ecosystem.

Cloud-Based Solutions: Not unlike the IT industry for certain applications, there is a growing adoption of cloud-based video surveillance platforms, offering scalability, remote accessibility, and easier management of surveillance footage across multiple locations. This is especially true for smaller operations before escalating volumes of content favor a hybrid of on-prem and cloud-based solutions.

Cybersecurity Features: No industry is immune from cyber criminals, so it was no surprise to see an increased focus on cybersecurity features and protocols to protect video surveillance systems from hacking, data breaches, and other cyber threats. This includes encryption, multi-factor authentication, regular software updates, and offsite/offline storage.

All the above innovation happening in VS applications sounds terrific and it got a lot of attention at the show. Associated vendors that I spoke to were downright giddy about it.

But as soon as I asked about storage, the mood suddenly changed to one of concern. How to cost effectively retain more and more VS content is becoming a bit of a nightmare. All of the advances with the VS cameras are great, however, it comes at a cost when recording all that high-res content. 360-degree cameras, IoT enabled systems, edge computing all require more and more storage.

The video analytics capabilities have historically acted on live video, and AI/ML is teaching everyone about “large datasets” to learn from. That means storing more video for longer periods of time to be able to run new analytics to create more business intelligence.

Keeping increasing volumes of VS content is simply not sustainable on defacto standard hard disk drive systems from a cost and energy perspective. Cloud offerings have already shifted from ‘cloud storage’ to ‘cloud managed’ because the overall cloud costs have become prohibitive too.

Relief is on the Way Via LTO and Cozaint

Fortunately, pain relief for video storage of surveillance content continues to be developed by Cozaint, a video surveillance expert and innovator. At ISC West, Cozaint CEO, Jay Bartlett debuted his company’s new Marcia™ software platform. Marcia dramatically reduces storage costs via integration of a tier 2 LTO data tape library. It’s really an active archive solution that makes video playback and review operator friendly compared to previous attempts to integrate LTO purely as an archive.

Marcia intelligently stores VS content across multiple storage tiers including HDD, LTO data tape libraries and even cloud if required. Marcia abstracts the backend storage hardware from the front-end video management software (VMS) solution allowing for seamless, fully integrated, and managed storage while allowing for easy video playback.

The Marcia LTO integration solution is compatible with popular VMS systems using Network Optix’s NxWitness, Digital Wathdog Spectrum IPVMS, Hanwha Wisenet Wave, Cook Security Piko VMS and Cozaint’s own BOBBY VMS.

The Cozaint solution is also compatible with major LTO automated data tape library systems from vendors such as Dell, HPE, IBM, Overland, Quantum, Qualstar and others.

Key Benefits of Cozaint Marcia with Integrated LTO Tape Tier

In the IT world outside of the security halls, LTO data tape is a tried-and-true solution for backup, active archive and deep archive applications. LTO is widely acknowledged as having the lowest TCO compared to any other storage solution including cloud and is the most eco-friendly form of storage as LTO tapes consume no energy unless being read or written to in an LTO tape drive.

But in the security industry, LTO tape has a very small footprint as a transition was made in the early 2000s from VHS tape to HDD systems and the feature rich LTO tape format was overlooked along the way.

Previous attempts to integrate LTO into a video surveillance infrastructure used traditional IT backup and archiving processes, which did not take into account how video surveillance operators playback and review video. Thus, those previous attempts were met with user experience issues that did not have positive outcomes.

Now, the industry has learned that LTO storage must be VMS-aware for users to accept and embrace the LTO advantages. With more VMS support becoming available, LTO will increase in user adoption, especially when all the favorable acquisition costs and operating costs are realized.

With a Marcia enabled LTO storage tier, users can benefit from a significant reduction in storage costs typically in the range of 50% compared to an all HDD system. Thanks to Marcia, playback and review of all recorded video footage from LTO tape libraries is virtually effortless without the latency of previous VS solutions. Very high capacity LTO tapes such as LTO-9 at 18 TB offer scalability for growth, feature the industry’s best reliability ratings and can be easily stored offline for cyber security purposes.

It’s Time for More, Not Less

In a society that sadly needs better security systems to protect life and property, widely deployed, high resolution VS systems are critical. But we need more, not less. We need better quality not worse quality. We need more long-term storage of VS content to support AI, not less.

Integrating a cost-effective, eco-friendly LTO tape-based storage tier is a very cool solution for a red-hot market need.

Check out more about Marcia and Cozaint at www.cozaint.com/marcia

Check out everything you need to know about LTO data tape here.

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New Research from ESG Highlights the Impact of AI/ML on Active Archiving

Reading Time: 2 minutes

As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) workloads begin to permeate and drive business processes and decision-making at all levels, effective data management is becoming imperative. Data needs to be stored for a long time and it needs to be available to be actively accessed during its lifespan.

Active archive solutions are ideal for managing information for AI and ML frameworks as they can provide customized optimization for storage, security, and performance. In addition, AI tools can be applied in an active archive to automate and streamline data management processes in various ways. For example, AI can cleanse, normalize, and categorize long-term data for AI workloads, automate metadata tagging and indexing for inactive data, and identify and archive sensitive information.

A new eBook from ESG Research, sponsored by the Active Archive Alliance, explores the general state of data archiving and the benefits and challenges shaping modern environments and strategies. It also examines how active archiving integrates into modern data archiving practices and the role it plays in determining the success of AI/ML initiatives.

Key findings include:

  • On average, organizations have 6.7 PB of data on corporate servers, with 44% of the data on an active archive.
  • Active archive data growth is in lock step with overall data growth; archive data doubling roughly every 3.5 years.
  • AI/ML capabilities are a key accelerator for the adoption of active archives.
  • The top three use cases for active archives are analytics, business efficiency, and cyber-resilience.

Ultimately, AI depends on well-organized data for success, which underscores why effective data management through an active archive is crucial for an AI future. Organizations without intelligent data management processes that feed into business intelligence workloads risk being left behind by competitors who do.

For more information, access the eBook here: Impact of AI/ML on Active Archiving.

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9 Reasons Why, for Modern Tape, It’s a New Game with New Rules

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Fred Moore of Horison Information Strategies, a long-time storage industry expert and consultant, recently published a 2024 update of his report entitled “Tape. New Game. New Rules”.

This updated report provides a focus on how modern magnetic data tape is solving for IT challenges including runaway data growth, economic pressure, sustainability issues, cybercrime and the reliability that’s needed for the long term preservation of data. And that data that has also grown dramatically in value as we learn to analyze it and derive competitive advantage from it.

Below are 9 reasons why today’s modern tape systems represent a new game with new rules. Taken together, they make a compelling case for many to revisit the rich value proposition that tape has to offer now and well into the future.

LTO Ecosystem Extends Roadmap

In 2022, the LTO Program Technology Provider Companies (TPCs), HPE, IBM and Quantum Corporation, announced an updated LTO technology roadmap that extends the LTO Ultrium standard through 14 generations. The roadmap calls for tape capacities to double with each new generation, with LTO-14 delivering up to 1,440 TB (1.44 PB compressed) per tape. The new LTO roadmap extension is more relevant than ever and at this point no other storage technologies have revealed a comparable multi-generational roadmap.

LTO-9 Adds Capacity and Features

LTO-9 is the latest LTO generation bringing new functionality to tape including higher capacity, data rate, access time and reliability improvements.  LTO-9 increased the native cartridge capacity of LTO-8 by 50% to 18 TB (45 TB compressed) and increased drive throughput (11%) up to 400 MB/sec enabling a single LTO-9 drive to write up to 1.44 TB/hour. A new feature for the LTO family with LTO-9, oRAO (Open Recommended Access Order) reduces initial file access times to first byte of data by as much as 73%.

Record Capacity Achieved with TS1170 Tape Storage System

2023 marked the debut of a new ultra-high-density tape drive with a native storage capacity of 50 TB in a single cartridge and capacities up to 150 TB per cartridge with 3:1 compression. The IBM TS1170 storage system represents the world’s highest cartridge capacity ever announced and enables data intensive secondary storage applications including AI, big data, archiving, cloud computing, and analytics to significantly reduce their total cost of ownership.

Further Improvements Made in Tape Media Longevity

In 2019, Fujifilm and JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association) officially confirmed the longevity of Barium Ferrite magnetic signal strength to be stable for at least 50 years based on studies of LTO-7 tapes. Prior to this confirmation, the number of years for LTO tape longevity had been rated up to 30 years.

Tape Leads Reliability Ratings

Since LTO-1 first came to market in 2000 with a native capacity of 100 GB, the capacity of LTO cartridges has increased by 180 times and data rates have increased by 20 times. Over the same period, the specified uncorrectable Bit Error Rate (BER) of LTO cartridges has improved by a factor of 1000, three orders of magnitude improvement. LTO-9 provides an industry leading uncorrectable bit error rate of 1×1020 compared to the highest HDD BER at 1×1017. A BER of 1×1020 corresponds to one unrecoverable read error event for every 12.5 exabytes of data read. Today, both the latest LTO and enterprise tape products are more reliable than any HDD (or SSD).

Tape Reduces CO2, eWaste and TCO

Moore cites key stats from Improving Information Technology Sustainability with Modern Tape Storage, a research paper issued by Brad John’s Consulting that compared an all data on HDD solution to an all-tape solution and to an active archive that moved 60% of the HDD resident (low activity) data to tape. Moving 60% of HDD data to tape for 10 years reduced carbon emissions by 58% and electronic waste was reduced by 53%. Moving 60% of HDD data to tape, results in a 46% TCO savings. Moving all data to tape results in a 78% cost reduction.

Tape Air-Gap Thwarts Cybercrime

The tape air gap, inherent with tape technology, has ignited significant interest in storing data on air-gapped tape. The “tape air gap” means that there is no electronic connection to the data stored on a removeable tape cartridge therefore preventing a malware attack on stored data. HDD and SSD systems remaining online 7x24x365 are always vulnerable to a cybercrime attack.

Data Protection Strategies Evolving with Tape

Using tape to backup HDDs was the original data protection strategy, but having one backup copy is no longer sufficient. The widely accepted and genetically diverse 3-2-1-1 Backup Strategy states that enterprises should have three copies of backup data on two different media types, one copy offsite and one air gap copy. Combining the tape air gap copy with available tape drive encryption and available WORM (Write Once Read Many) tape strengthens any data center cyber resiliency strategy.

Active Archive Leverages Tape

As the amount of secondary storage data soars, new technology tiers are emerging in secondary storage including the Active Archive, Traditional Archive and Deep Archive to address many new use cases. Many data management products now support tape as an object storage target using S3 services. Combining the open tape file system LTFS with tape partitioning, data mover software (HSM, etc.), an HDD array or NAS in front of a tape library creates an active archive.

In Conclusion

At least 80% of the world’s digital data is optimally suited to reside on secondary storage and this amount could reach nearly 7 ZBs by 2025. In response to this, the tape ecosystem has significantly expanded its capabilities in recent years. Tape has also become the leading pure storage solution to defend against cybercrime by seamlessly integrating air gap, encryption and WORM capabilities. Roadmaps signal that the trend of steady tape innovation will continue well into the future. Tape is the greenest storage technology and can significantly reduce carbon emissions and eWaste from data center operations. More large-scale tier 2 data centers are determined to contain their infrastructure costs and improve their sustainability metrics. They will be motivated to rethink existing data storage practices and take advantage of advanced magnetic tape as they approach exabyte scale. Combined with improved access times, faster data rates, a 50-year media life, lowest TCO and the highest device reliability, modern tape has the greatest potential to address the massive capacity demands of the zettabyte era.

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

Reading Time: 4 minutesJohn Monroe of Furthur Market Research, a long-time storage industry expert and former Gartner analyst, together with Brad Johns, storage industry expert on TCO and energy consumption, recently published a new report entitled “The Sustainable Preservation of Enterprise Data”. This report is a follow-up to John’s most recent report, “Preservation or Deletion: Archiving and Accessing the Dataverse” March 2023, and his initial report entitled “The Escalating Challenge of Preserving Enterprise Data”, August 2022. The new report is co-sponsored by Cerabyte, Fujifilm, and IBM.

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

A Dataverse of Stunning Dimensions

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

Cool, Cold or Frozen Data Dominates

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

Concern for Data Center Energy Consumption

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

Total Cost of Ownership Savings and a Shifting of Exabytes

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

In Conclusion

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

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Looking Back at Storage in 2023 and Predictions for 2024

Reading Time: 7 minutesStorage industry analysts are saying that 2023 will be remembered for its historic downturn in demand. This may be so, due to hyperscaler digestion of previous year’s capacity shipments. But a few things remain constant, such as the growth of data driven by the proliferation of new applications in the digital data sphere and things like data intensive AI/ML. You can also add in the steady expansion of IoT including video surveillance applications. Another constant is the increasing value of data that users want to keep more of and for longer periods of time. Users also want ready online access to that data giving rise to the popularity of cost-effective and energy-efficient active archive solutions. So here are my highlights for 2023 and really bold predictions for 2024!

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

Reading Time: 6 minutesI recently had the opportunity to visit a very unique data tape vault run by Vital Records, Inc. The location I visited is in Roxbury New Jersey, about an hour drive from New York City. What makes this tape vault known as VRI Roxbury, so unique is that it is 125,000 square feet of vault space situated between 30 and 50 feet underground. It was originally built by AT&T as a hardened command center bunker in the 1960’s. The facility is an intriguing blast from the past with relics of AT&T’s occupancy tastefully preserved. It was built to withstand natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires or dare I say, a nearby nuclear blast. In such an event, AT&T could continue to support the telecommunications needs of its clients, including the U.S. Military. So no expense was spared in building what is truly an engineering marvel below ground.

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

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

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Leveraging LTO Tape Technology in Video Surveillance to Create an Active Archive

Reading Time: 4 minutesAs both an active archive and tape evangelist, I’m excited to share how LTO (Linear Tape-Open) tape technology can transform video surveillance storage into a powerful, affordable, and long-term active archive solution. While there is a desperate need for more storage to support the proliferation of video surveillance applications, many in the video surveillance industry view the concept of “archive” as a burdensome process. But when done right with easy-to-use LTO tape systems, it becomes a strategic advantage in the form of an active archive.

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Executive Q & A with Michael Arnone, Director of Marketing, FUJIFILM Data Storage Solutions

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How long have you been working at Fujifilm and what is your role in the company?

Michael Arnone - Director of Marketing

I have been with FUJIFILM Data Storage division for 3.5 years now as Director of Marketing for the FUJIFILM branded Linear Tape Open (LTO) product line, and I’m located at the FUJIFILM North America headquarters in Valhalla, NY. Prior to being with Fujifilm, I spent 13 years in business aviation marketing making sure that sales take off!

What’s do you like most about your job?

I have really enjoyed installing a digital marketing infrastructure from the ground up. This is what we call the “DX project” and it involves a lot of new technology, processes and organizational improvements. This allows our sales & marketing teams to be more efficient and results in a better customer experience when seeking information about our products, services and value proposition. But I also like the creative side and the development of content that we use in the DX project.

Can you talk about some of your recent marketing campaigns?

Our current campaign is called “Built on Tape” and started in early 2023. This ANA Award-winning campaign features eye-catching creative and is designed to build awareness for the fundamental advantages of modern data tape. We believe organizations can build solid storage strategies with tape as a building block especially when it comes to cool or cold data. Hopefully readers of this blog page will have seen our banner ads throughout the IT world. 


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