I had the opportunity to attend in person and present on the latest in tape technology at the 16th Annual Flash Memory Summit (FMS) held in Santa Clara last week. That’s right, tape technology at a flash conference. My friends from the DNA Data Storage Alliance were there presenting too. So what gives?
Archival data may not require high performance computing, but it does need to stay accessible for productivity, legal, business value, analytics, and compliance. IT must secure that data against ransomware and other types of cyberattacks. And IT needs to do all this at reasonable costs, even given extraordinary projected data growth.
Active archiving technology is constantly evolving as marketplace demand increases. We recently released our 2022 Report: The Active Archiving Ecosystem: Building a Flexible Archival Repository Your Way, highlighting the increased demand for new data management strategies and the benefits and innovations of active archive solutions.
Top innovations within active archiving include Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML), sustainability, analytics, and compliance.
In this executive Q & A, Tom Nakatani, president of FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. (FRMU) discusses how tape technology plays a vital role in the world of data storage now and in the future.
Q1) Tell us a bit about yourself, your career at Fujifilm and how you ended up as president of FRMU?
I don’t like to age myself, but I have been in the Recording Media Business for 25 years since I joined Fujifilm in 1997. I worked primarily in international sales and marketing, responsible for key customers and partners. I also spent about six years at the European headquarters in Germany. Most recently I was assigned as VP of Sales and Marketing in the U.S. in September of 2020 before being appointed president of FRMU as of July 1st of this year. As president, I am responsible for the sales and profitability of this division including our Bedford manufacturing facility. I’m pleased to say Bedford is a world class operation with many cutting edge technologies and sustainability initiatives in place. It’s also the world’s largest LTO manufacturing facility, producing the greenest form of storage. But our biggest asset is our team of employees across the organization, from coast to coast, dedicated to exceptional customer satisfaction.
Q2) What are some of the biggest challenges facing the data storage industry today?
I think the biggest challenge starts with the ongoing and escalating digital transformation that is generating more data than we ever could have imagined even ten years ago. We are now firmly in the zettabyte age where we have a tendency to keep everything indefinitely and we’re afraid to delete anything. And rightfully so, as the value of data has increased and in many ways it is the new currency in this digital economy.
But the question is, how can we continue to manage ever increasing volumes of data that are growing exponentially? How can the industry afford it from a TCO perspective and from an energy consumption perspective? The IT industry needs to reduce its impact on global warming and climate change. And how do we protect the data from theft or ransomware? The IT industry needs a cost-effective way to prevent unauthorized access by securing data in offline, offsite locations.
These are significant challenges but tape solutions are part of the answer. It simply requires a strategic approach to data management and getting the right data in the right place at the right time. Why keep inactive data on 24/7 spinning disk that costs a lot and consumes a lot of energy? Why not move it to modern automated tape systems to reduce cost and CO2 footprint? This will free up HDD space for new, active data! Why not make a low cost copy of the data on tape and send it offsite for cyber security reasons? These solutions are available and are being practiced by the most technologically advanced and data intensive customers in the world today including the major hyperscalers.
Q3) How is FRMU innovating to address these challenges?
Together with our global Recording Media colleagues around the world we continue to bring innovative new products and solutions to market. Our tape technology provides the world’s leading companies with high-capacity data storage solutions to help them manage the increasing volumes of valuable data that we just discussed. Our recent release of LTO-9 with 18 TB native and up to 45 TB of compressed capacity is a good example. According to recent studies by industry experts, LTO-9 is even more energy efficient than previous generations of LTO and when compared to HDD can reduce CO2e by more than 95%. In addition, our Bedford facility has come up with innovative ways to custom package our tape products according to specific customer requirements for ease of use and sustainability goals. Our engineering teams have developed diagnostic tools to maximize performance of tape systems for some of our largest customers. We are also very excited about the innovation we are bringing to the object storage market. Our S3 compatible Object Archive software enables access to low cost tape storage with high reliability and security for long term archiving and preservation of valuable but low access data sets.
Q4) What role do you think tape will play in the future?
We believe organizations and enterprises of all kinds will continue to rely on our products for long-term, reliable, secure, eco-friendly and cost-effective data protection and retention. This includes backup for cybersecurity and ransomware protection to active archive for infrequently accessed data to cold archive for so much of the data that is rarely accessed but still has value and can’t be deleted. We have the fundamental building blocks in place to continue increasing areal density and capacity of magnetic linear tape well into the future based on magnetic particle science such as Barium Ferrite, Strontium Ferrite and even Epsilon Ferrite in the more distant future. Our most recent technology demo with IBM showed the potential for 580 TB of native capacity on a single LTO sized cartridge. That’s a lot of data but it’s what will eventually be needed to store and protect data beyond the zettabyte age in an economical and energy efficient manner. I’m sure that advancements will also continue in flash and HDD or new technologies like DNA data storage will come along. But I believe all these technologies will be needed and will complement each other.
After a two year hiatus due to COVID, Fujifilm’s 12th Annual Global IT Executive Summit took place last week in beautiful, warm and sunny San Diego. This year’s Summit theme was “Optimizing storage in the post-Covid, zettabyte age” where organizations have to do more with fewer resources while the value, volumes and retention periods of data continue to increase unabated. It was so good to once again interact face-to-face with members of the storage industry family including around a hundred or so customers, vendors, industry analysts, and storage industry experts during the 3 day event.
About The Summit For those not familiar with the Summit, it is an educational conference featuring presentations from industry experts, analysts, vendors and end users about the latest trends, best practices and future developments in data management and storage. A concluding speaker panel with Q & A and peer-to-peer networking opportunities throughout the agenda truly make the Summit a unique storage industry event.
Key End User and Vendor Presentations Similar to past Summits (we last convened in San Francisco in October of 2019) we enjoyed presentations from key end users including AWS, CERN, Meta/Facebook and Microsoft Azure. These end users are on the leading edge of innovation and in many ways are pioneering a path forward in the effective management of vast volumes of data growing exponentially every year.
From the vendor community, we were treated to the latest updates and soon to be unveiled products and solutions from Cloudian, IBM, Quantum, Spectra Logic, Twist Bioscience (DNA data storage) and Western Digital (HDD). The tape vendors shined a light on the continuing innovations in tape solutions including improvements in ease-of-use and maintenance of automated tape libraries as reviewed by Quantum. New tape applications abound from object storage on tape in support of hybrid cloud strategies as explained by Cloudian and Spectra, to the advantages of sustainable tape storage presented by IBM. It’s not a question of if, but when organizations will need to seriously address carbon emissions related to storage devices. After all: “no planet, no need for storage” quipped one attendee. Also included in the tape application discussions were the massive cold data archiving operations as presented by CERN and the hyper scale cloud service providers.
Finally from the world of tape, was a chilling, harrowing tale of a real life ransomware attack experienced by Spectra Logic and how their own tape products contributed to the safe protection of their data with the simple principal of a tape air gap.
Need for Archival Storage We also heard about the latest updates in the progress of DNA data storage from Twist Bioscience and where the world of HDD is going from Western Digital. We are now firmly in the zettabyte age with an expected 11 zettabytes of persistent data to be stored by 2025. Just one zettabyte would require 55 million 18TB HDDs or 55 million LTO-9 tapes. As an industry we are going to need a lot of archival storage! That includes future technologies like DNA, advanced HDDs, optical discs, and of course, highly advanced modern tape solutions. Tape will continue to deliver the lowest TCO, lowest energy consumption and excellent cybersecurity. All the while tape is supported by a roadmap with increasing cartridge capacities to meet market demand as it unfolds. Certainly, the cloud service providers will leverage all of these storage media at some point as they fine tune their SLAs and prices for serving hot data to cold archival data.
Fred Moore, Horison Information Strategies
Analysts Share Future Vision From the analyst community, we were treated to a visionary storage industry outlook from Fred Moore, president of Horison Information Strategies who shared the fact that 80% of all data quickly becomes archival and is best maintained in the lower tiers of his famed storage pyramid as an active archive or cold archive. Following Fred was important data from Brad Johns Consulting that showed the 18X sustainability advantage of eco-friendly tape systems compared to energy intensive HDDs. While we need both technologies, and they are indeed complementary, a tremendous opportunity exists for the storage industry to reduce carbon emissions by simply moving cold, inactive data from HDD to tape systems.
Rounding out the analyst presentations was Philippe Nicolas of Coldago Research with some valuable insights into end user storage requirements and preferences in both the U.S. and Europe.
Innovation from an Industry Expert From the realm of storage industry experts, we had a compelling talk from Jay Bartlett of Cozaint. With his expertise in the video surveillance market, Jay shared how the boom in video surveillance applications is becoming unsustainable from a retention of content perspective. It will become increasingly cost prohibitive to retain high definition video surveillance footage on defacto-standard HDD storage solutions. Jay revealed a breakthrough allowing for the seamless integration of tier 2 LTO tape with a cost savings benefit of 50%! No longer will we need to rely on grainy, compromised video evidence.
Final Thoughts The Summit wrapped up with a speaker panel moderated by IT writer and analyst, Philippe Nicolas. One big take away from this session was that while innovation is happening, it will need to continue in the future if we are to effectively store the zettabytes to come. Innovation means investment in R&D and production of new solutions, perhaps even hybrid models of existing technologies. That investment can’t come from the vendors alone and the hyper scalers will need to have some skin in the game.
In conclusion, the Summit was long overdue. The storage eco-system is a family from end users to vendors, to analysts and experts. As a family we learn from each other and help each other. That’s what families do. Fujifilm was pleased to bring the family together from around the globe under one roof, for frank and open discussion that will help solve the challenges we and our society are facing.
I think it’s safe to say people like surveys, probably not everyone, but most people do. Why? Experts in the field suggest that people are willing to take surveys because respondents feel their opinions are valued and that their answers will be used and may even result in a benefit to society. They feel their participation will impact something they care about, and they want to share their opinion with those who will listen and act on the information.
Surveying the C-Suite on Sustainability So it’s not surprising that Fujifilm got a great response rate to a recently launched survey entitled Awareness Survey on Environmental Issues in the Digital Domain. As many as 1,200 C-suite professionals responded including CEOs, CFOs, CSOs, CTOs, and CIOs from companies of 100 or more employees in the United States, Germany, Japan, and China.
The survey revealed that there is a growing awareness around broader environmental issues among corporate leaders, and that’s great news as the negative impacts of global warming and climate change keep piling up, flood after flood, wildfire after wildfire, and storm after storm.
When it comes to IT infrastructure specifically, the majority of U.S. respondents believe sustainability improvements in IT services and equipment can positively impact climate change, but 40% indicated that they did not know or were unsure if data storage can have a negative environmental impact and increase the cost of doing business.
Increasing Data Storage Requirements Data storage can certainly be energy-intensive. This is a problem that is only getting worse as the value of data rises with the ability to analyze and derive competitive advantage from it. As a result, demand for long-term data retention is increasing. In fact, data to be stored is expected to grow from just 2.0 zettabytes in 2016 to 4.1 ZB in 2020 and is expected to reach 11.1 ZB in 2025 according to a recent whitepaper from IDC. Just one ZB is a vast amount of data equal to one million petabytes that would need 55 million 18 TB hard disk drives (HDDs) or 55 million 18 TB LTO-9 tapes to store. The environmental impact of the energy required to support this volume of storage is greatly underestimated, as are the associated carbon emissions. When asked in the survey what barriers exist for those who have not considered more eco-friendly data storage options, 31% in the U.S. cited a lack of awareness or understanding of the issue.
Hot vs. Cold Data There was also a lack of awareness pertaining to frequently accessed “hot” data and less frequently accessed “cold” data, with 36% of respondents saying they either don’t or are unsure if they differentiate between the two. And 35% don’t realize that differentiating between hot and cold data can impact sustainability, affordability, and security. 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 estimate 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.
Reducing Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions with Tape To help increase awareness and understanding of this issue, a number of whitepapers have been published highlighting alternative options for storage including LTO data tape. A recent IDC whitepaper shows how migrating cold data from HDDs to LTO tape can reduce data centers’ CO2 emissions by 43.7% by 2030, avoiding 664 M metric tons of CO2 cumulatively. Other research shows that tape consumes 87% less energy than equivalent amounts of HDD storage. When CO2 emissions are analyzed over the entire product lifecycle (from raw materials to production to distribution, usage, and disposal) of HDD and tape, studies show a 95% reduction in CO2 in favor of tape compared to HDD. The same study shows Total Cost of Ownership for long-term data storage can be reduced by more than 70% using tape instead of HDD. All of this is possible by taking a storage optimization approach, where data that has aged and is infrequently accessed, otherwise known as cold data, gets moved from expensive primary storage like solid-state flash drives and HDDs to economical and environmentally friendly tape systems.
As far as security is concerned, tape is also playing a role in cybercrime prevention with air gap capabilities, WORM, and encryption. Intelligent data management software, typical in today’s active archive environments, can automatically move data from expensive, energy-intensive tiers of storage to more economical and energy-efficient tiers based on user-defined policies. By moving inactive data out of primary storage, the ransomware attack surface can also be reduced.
Renewable Energy Plus Conservation Another interesting point from the survey reveals that 51% of participants said that their companies are using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, while 22% said they are doing so via climate protection projects and 13% through carbon offsets. Renewable energy is a key factor in reducing CO2 emissions and Fujifilm is a fan (see photo at right of our LTO plant in Bedford, MA). But alone renewables likely can’t come online fast enough or cheaply enough to keep up with data growth rates of between 30% – 60% annually in major data centers today. That’s why conservation has to be part of the equation. The very first metric to be analyzed in data center energy efficiency is simply the amount of energy that’s being consumed.
Alternative Data Storage Options Finally, 81% of respondents noted that they would consider an alternative data storage option that is more sustainable and affordable. That option exists in the form of today’s modern and highly advanced data tape systems that offer the lowest energy consumption and cost profile. Add to that its best-in-class reliability rating of any storage media and longest archival life. So for the benefit of society, let’s act on the information that the survey reveals. It’s really just a question of getting the right data, in the right place, at the right time.
It seems like 2020 and 2021 have blended to combine into one long, tough time for all of us. Let’s hope 2022 emerges on the brighter side! In the meantime, here are 5 big predictions we see coming up in this New Year and beyond:
1. Increasing Focus on IT Energy Consumption
Severe weather was once again a hallmark of 2021, from the Texas deep freeze right up to the bitter end of 2021. As unusual tornadoes and wildfires reminded us of the negative impact of global warming and climate change.
According to a report from the United Nations released in August of 2021, irreversible damage has already been done to the environment as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. The world showed renewed interest in the COP 26 conference in Glasgow where countries from around the globe gathered to pledge their commitments to combat climate change.
Wall Street got in on the act too and will increasingly demand that companies disclose their sustainability initiatives and results. Accordingly, more and more companies will be appointing Chief Sustainability Officers who will put pressure on their organization’s energy usage including energy-intensive IT operations. The use of renewables, but also energy conservation measures will be mandated.
Curbing CO2 emissions is quickly becoming a C-suite imperative and storage will not escape the scrutiny. Research shows that 81% of CIOs would consider alternative data storage options that are more cost-effective and sustainable. This will set the stage for new tape system deployments that not only can reduce TCO by more than 70%, but can reduce CO2 emissions by 95% compared to traditional HDD storage.
2. Return to Hybrid Cloud Strategies
Prior to COVID 19, the term “cloud repatriation” appeared often in the press as it turned out that cloud was not a panacea for everything. But COVID 19 understandably created short-term storage strategies often resulting in a flight to the cloud.
However, long-term thinking will favor hybrid cloud strategies where the best of public cloud plus on-prem private cloud provides maximum flexibility and value. This will especially apply to data accessibility, regulatory requirements, data governance, and cybercrime risks including ransomware.
Today’s modern automated tape solutions will provide the advantages of cost, scalability, reliability, and data protection to support the hybrid cloud model.
3. Storage Optimization Will Be Key to Data Growth Management
With the continuing digital transformation comes the zettabyte age of storage where data to be stored globally will approach 6.0 zettabytes (ZB) in 2022, according to a leading IT industry analyst. Just one ZB would require 55 million 18.0 TB HDDs or 55 million 18.0 TB LTO-9 cartridges!
Storage optimization, that is to say, getting the right data, in the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost will be critical to maintaining competitive advantage.
Intelligent data management will be required, leveraging multiple tiers of storage, active archives, and innovative S3-compatible archive solutions for object storage. Nowhere will this be more apparent than in digital preservation and high-performance computing environments with a simple need to offload expensive object storage to cost-effective tape systems using an S3-compatible API.
4. Continuing Rise of Ransomware
It has been said that ransomware is only in “its infancy” and it’s been said many more times, an attack is not a matter of “if” but “when.” The FBI and CISA have weighed in with this advice:
“Backup your data, system images, and configurations, test your backups, and keep backups offline.”
As ransomware hackers mature in sophistication (and profits), online backups are increasingly being targeted to hamper recovery efforts, including cloud-based backups connected to a network. As a result, the value of affordable, removable, and highly-portable tape will only increase, providing true air gap protection (meaning offline, offsite backups in a secure location).
5. Video Surveillance Content Management
As we predicted last year, data tape has increasingly become a strategic option in managing the ballooning volume of video content associated with video surveillance applications.
Due to security reasons, regulatory compliance, or for future analytics, retention volumes and periods will only increase making legacy HDD solutions cost-prohibitive and unsustainable in terms of energy consumption. Look for increasing adoption of cost-effective tier 2 tape in video retention workflows in 2022.
Successfully emerging from the combined years of 2020 and 2021 will require getting back to strategic, long-term planning. Given the relentless growth of data, environmental concerns, and limited resources and budgets, today’s highly advanced tape storage will play an increasingly vital role in 2022 and beyond.
As we head into 2022, I recall a quote from an IT industry executive who said in his 2021 predictions: “Ransomware is just in its infancy”. Indeed, ransomware reigns as today’s chief malware threat with no signs of subsiding anytime soon. Businesses may lose revenue, employee talent, customers, and even shut down from a ransomware attack. Coupled with the ransomware problem, exponential data growth challenges organizations with gathering, storing, and protecting their data cost-effectively with limited budgets. Strong data governance through active archive solutions helps organizations mitigate ransomware attacks and provides a framework for strategically managing their data growth.
A New White Paper by DCIG
In a recently published white paper by the Data Center Intelligence Group (DCIG), commissioned by the Active Archive Alliance, it is stated that active archiving solutions offer permanent and long-term protection for archived data against malicious intrusion as well as accidental data loss or corruption.
The report highlights numerous ways that active archive solutions can provide ransomware mitigation including:
Protecting archive data from modification. WORM (write once, read many) and retention management features keep archived data safe from malicious encryption or overwrite.
Replicating archived data and securing offline storage. Active archive solutions may secure archived data through offline storage, providing an air gap defense that removes the data from the network where it cannot be attacked. Archived data may be replicated for additional protection.
Replicating data to a secure cloud. Data remains online in a secure cloud, protecting it with security features like Secure Socket Layers (SSL) encryption and multi-factor user authentication.
Supporting 3-2-1 data archiving. The 3-2-1 model maintains three replicated copies stored on two different storage types, such as a disk-based backup system, a secure cloud platform, and online or offline tape.
Enabling rapid recovery. The more data sets that reside in primary storage, the greater the opportunity for hackers. Active archiving minimizes attack opportunities in primary storage by identifying and moving inactive files to secure cloud and offline archives. This approach leaves fewer data sets to test and recover on primary storage and primary backup, speeding up recovery with minimal business impact.
Let’s hope 2022 does not represent the “terrible 2s” as ransomware matures from its infancy. But if it does, it’s good to have strategic solutions like an active archive that help manage both the data and the threat!
Climate change and the effects of global warming have increasingly been in the spotlight as we emerge from the all-consuming COVID pandemic. Indeed, sustainability has become a strategic imperative for organizations across the globe.
Recognizing the magnitude of this issue in the energy-intensive IT industry and in data storage operations specifically, Fujifilm has endeavored to help raise awareness of the energy advantage of today’s modern and highly advanced tape solutions.
In recent whitepapers by Brad Johns Consulting, IDC, Horison Information Strategies, and others, you can read about the energy advantage of tape compared to alternative storage technologies like HDD. But does it actually help end-users meet their sustainability goals in real-world applications?
To answer this question, I recently hosted a virtual roundtable discussion entitled, “Is Tape Really Eco-Friendly?” The panelists included two end-users, Jason Adrian from Microsoft Azure and Vladimir Bahyl from CERN. To review his whitepaper findings, I invited Brad Johns, TCO and energy consumption expert. And to provide feedback from the broader market of end-users, I invited Shawn Brume from IBM to share his observations.
The roundtable kicked off with a brief recap of Brad John’s analysis where he finds that for long-term storage of inactive or cold data, tape consumes 87%less energy than equivalent amounts of hard disk drives, produces 87% less carbon emissions, and reduces TCO by 86%. When looking at the total product lifecycle from procurement of raw material to production, distribution, usage, and disposal, tape produces 95% less CO2 equivalents and produces 80% less electronic waste than hard disk drives.
Those are pretty compelling numbers! But are the end-users seeing that benefit?
Jason Adrian from Microsoft Azure weighed in with the following comment: “When you take the material savings and power savings, tape actually does offer quite a bit of advantage compared to other technologies that are on the market today.”
Vladimir Bahyl from CERN offered; “We have been using tape for over 50 years at CERN. We are fully aware of the possibility to have hard drives that spin down and this saves some power when not in use. However, this completely changes the workflow that we have in-house…and adds complexity. Our archive is not a super cold archive, it is actually an active archive and tape is a natural building block in this system.”
Shawn Brume from IBM observed; “You can bring the total CO2 down to .42 metric tons per year per petabyte with tape. Which for most customers is 2 to 4X better in the overall lifecycle than HDD and believe it or not, 2 to 4X better than flash/SSDs. Customers are seeing that tape represents significant sustainability value.”
As organizations and IT operations specifically seek to achieve their sustainability goals, strategically moving inactive, infrequently accessed, cool or cold data to tape can have substantial environmental benefits.
The newly released whitepaper from IT analyst firm ESG (Enterprise Strategy Group), sponsored by IBM and Fujifilm, entitled, “How Tape Technology Delivers Value in Modern Data-driven Businesses,” focuses on exciting, new advances in tape technology that are now positioning tape for a critical role in effective data protection and retention in the age of zettabyte (ZB) storage. That’s right “zettabyte storage!”
The whitepaper cites the need to store 17 ZB of persistent data by 2025. This includes “cold data” stored long-term and rarely accessed that is estimated to account for 80% of all data stored today. Just one ZB is a tremendous amount of data equal to one million petabytes that would need 55 million 18 TB hard drives or 55 million 18 TB LTO-9 tapes to store. Just like the crew in the movie Jaws needed a bigger boat, the IT industry is going to need higher capacity SSDs, HDDs, and higher density tape cartridges! On the tape front, help is on the way as demonstrated by IBM and Fujifilm in the form of a potential 580 TB capacity tape cartridge. Additional highlights from ESG’s whitepaper are below.
New Tape Technology IBM and Fujifilm set a new areal density record of 317 Gb/sq. inch on linear magnetic tape translating to a potential cartridge capacity of 580 TB native featuring a new magnetic particle called Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) with the ability to deliver capacities that extend well beyond disk, LTO, and enterprise tape roadmaps. SrFe magnetic particles are 60% smaller than the current defacto standard Barium Ferrite magnetic particles yet exhibit even better magnetic signal strength and archival life. On the hardware front, the IBM team has developed tape head enhancements and servo technologies to leverage even narrower data tracks to contribute to the increase in capacity.
The Case for Tape at Hyperscalers and Others Hyperscale data centers are major new consumers of tape technologies due to their need to manage massive data volumes while controlling costs. Tape is allowing hyperscalers including cloud service providers to achieve business objectives by providing data protection for critical assets, archival capabilities, easy capacity scaling, the lowest TCO, high reliability, fast throughput, low power consumption, and air gap protection. But tape also makes sense for small to large enterprise data centers facing the same data growth challenges including the need to scale their environments while keeping their costs down.
Data Protection, Archive, Resiliency, Intelligent Data Management According to an ESG survey revealed in the whitepaper, tape users identified reliability, cybersecurity, long archival life, low cost, efficiency, flexibility, and capacity as top attributes in tape usage today and favor tape for its long-term value. Data is growing relentlessly with longer retention periods as the value of data is increasing thanks to the ability to apply advanced analytics to derive a competitive advantage. Data is often kept for longer periods to meet compliance, regulatory, and for corporate governance reasons. Tape is also playing a role in cybercrime prevention with WORM, encryption, and air gap capabilities. Intelligent data management software, typical in today’s active archive environments, automatically moves data from expensive, energy-intensive tiers of storage to more economical and energy-efficient tiers based on user-defined policies.
ESG concludes that tape is the strategic answer to the many challenges facing data storage managers including the growing amount of data as well as TCO, cybersecurity, scalability, reliability, energy efficiency, and more. IBM and Fujifilm’s technology demonstration ensures the continuing role of tape as data requirements grow in the future and higher capacity media is required for cost control with the benefit of CO2 reductions among others. Tape is a powerful solution for organizations that adopt it now!
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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