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Vice President of Marketing
FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc
I recently returned from a speaking opportunity at the PRISM Conference held in Miami on May 8thand 9th where I spoke on the Role of Tape in Today’s Modern Offsite Storage Center. In addition to holding and protecting valuable data tape cartridges for archive, backup, and disaster recovery applications, offsite vaults also play a crucial role in providing an “air gap” against cyber criminals and their alarming malware and ransomware variants. Because of tape’s powerful value proposition, it provides this functionality particularly well. It’s easily portable, has the lowest total cost of ownership, is the most reliable storage medium today, and has long archival life and high capacity.
The audience, which included many regional data vault service providers from the U.S. and abroad, didn’t have to take my word on the value prop of tape. I backed it up with studies from leading IT research companies and articles from reliable publications such as the Wall Street Journal. I sprinkled in some news about tape usage from folks like Microsoft Azure. Finally, I detailed the bright future tape has based on its ability to continue to increase in areal density which will ensure increasing capacity and cost competitiveness without sacrificing performance, thanks in part to Fujifilm’s Barium Ferrite and Strontium Ferrite magnetic particle technology.
At the end of my presentation, during the Q&A, I got the following response and question: “Tape sounds great, how come we don’t see more tape volume flowing into our vaults?” One reason for this would be the increasing data densities of tape which would reduce unit volumes. Understandably this is not great for the vault service providers, but this is actually a great benefit for end users; they can store more data on fewer units. Another factor to consider is the ever-increasing popularity of cloud storage over say, the past five years. We have seen a move from on-premises, do-it-yourself storage to outsourced cloud services. This is especially true among startups and SMBs and specific verticals where the cloud can provide unique functionality such as compute and file sharing.
But as the world turns ever so slowly, so do market conditions. Now that data storage pros have gotten comfortable with what the cloud can do, they are also starting to understand some of the downsides such as high TCO associated with egress fees and bandwidth. Security concerns might be mounting too in light of escalating cybersecurity breaches.
So at some point, tape will make sense again for many of the folks who tried cloud, considering TCO, budget constraints and the need for air gap. It’s just a matter of time, as long as demand for storage keeps rising based on relentless data growth. And so long as the hackers don’t quit on the highly profitable multi-trillion dollar business of cybercrime.