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LTO-9 Serves the Needs of Enterprise Environments and Large Organizations like CERN

Reading Time: 3 minutes

November 30, 2021

By Drew Robb, Guest Blogger

The recent release of LTO-9 makes it clear that LTO tape serves the needs of enterprise environments. The cloud hyperscalers and many large organizations are firm believers in LTO tape as the best medium for large-scale storage and archiving.

Despite only being released in early September, tape drives and systems are now available for LTO-9 from the likes of IBM, Quantum, and Spectra Logic. On the media side, companies such as Fujifilm and Sony have launched LTO-9 tape cartridges.

LTO-9 Delivers Capacity and Performance

Fujifilm’s LTO Ultrium 9 data cartridge, for example, offers up to 45 TB of storage capacity (18 TB for non-compressed data), a 50% increase from the previous generation of LTO-8. The boost in storage capacity is achieved using Barium Ferrite (BaFe) magnetic particles, formulated into fine particles with Fujifilm’s Nanocubic technology that evenly distributes the magnetic particles on the tape surface, forming a smooth and thin magnetic layer for improved read/write performance. LTO-9 also delivers high-speed data transfer reaching up to 1,000MB/sec. for compressed data (400MB/sec. native), a 25% increase over LTO-8.

LTO-9 Deployment at CERN

I recently had the opportunity to interview Vladimir Bahyl, a beta LTO-9 user at world-renowned CERN. Vladimir, who is in charge of data archiving at CERN is now rolling out LTO-9 within his storage environment. This is where data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is stored. Massive amounts of data have been generated to date in experiments using a particle collider that measures 17 miles in circumference and is located roughly 100 meters below the France–Switzerland border. Tape has been in use at CERN for about five decades, and the organization currently stores around 400 PB on tape. This enables CERN to keep pace with the data explosion.

After a three-year break for upgrades, the collider is about to recommence operation. The IT department expects up to 180 PB of data to be added in 2022. CERN can cope with that quantity of information courtesy of a sophisticated tape-disk-SSD architecture. All results and all raw data from all CERN experiments are stored on tape and archived. When anything needs to be analyzed, it is transferred to disk and SSD.

Leveraging oRAO for Enhanced Access Time

A feature known as Open Recommended Access Order (oRAO) was included in LTO media for the first time with LTO-9. oRAO enables the retrieval of tape content in a more efficient way. Instead of sequentially laying out data on tape, oRAO takes advantage of multiple serpentine tracks on one tape to arrange data for more rapid access. According to testing at CERN, oRAO can position tape for data access anywhere from 30% to 70% faster than traditional sequential tape. What this adds up to is the need for fewer tape drives for the data recall workflow. If more backup vendors adopt this technology, it could seriously reduce the time needed for a restore.

Benefits of Tape at CERN

Users such as CERN gravitate toward tape for many reasons. In terms of long-term stability, data can still be recovered from tape after 30 years, whereas hard drives struggle to retain data beyond five years. Tape reliability is higher too. CERN has dozens of hard drives failing every week (out of tens of thousands it has on-site) compared to a negligible failure rate for tape.

But economics certainly factor in. Tape brings big savings in terms of CAPEX and OPEX. From an operating expense standpoint, tape consumes no power while tape cartridges are sitting idle, so it’s cost-effective and eco-friendly. The most cost-effective technology for large-scale, long-term storage is tape. And as it offers an air gap, to thwart online hackers, it raises the level of security.

In terms of reliability, the Fujifilm tape used at CERN performed well during a recent tape repacking project to switch older cartridges to the latest tape generation format. Out of 100 PB of tape that was read and repacked (6,300 miles of physical media), only 5 GB (3.5 feet) of data was corrupted – but even those files were recovered soon after.

You can find out more about CERN’s innovative implementation of tape at the upcoming 12th Annual Fujifilm Global IT Executive Summit in San Diego, June 22-24, 2022.

LTO Specs:

Maximum capacity 45TB compressed (18TB native)
Maximum transfer rate 1,000MB/sec. compressed (400MB/sec. native)
Number of tracks 8,960 (32 track heads in the serpentine format)
Cartridge memory Internal EEPROM with 32kB electromagnetic induction antenna
Tape width 12.65 mm
Tape thickness 5.2 μm
Tape length per cartridge 1,035 m
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Is Tape Really Eco-Friendly? Find out in this Virtual Roundtable of Industry Experts

Reading Time: 2 minutes

November 4, 2021

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

 

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.

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LTO-8 Delivers!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Rich Gadomski

March 19, 2020

As LTO-8 drives and media are increasingly deployed and widely available, the value proposition of LTO-8 is being confirmed by customers and it’s a pretty impressive story.

In the case of a major high-performance computing (HPC) customer who had been using LTO-6 previously for their archive, the jump to LTO-8 has done wonders for their available capacity. With approximately 7,000 slots in their library, fully loaded with LTO-6 media at 2.5TB each yielded a total native storage capacity of 17.5 PB. Migrating to LTO-8 drives and eventually converting those slots to LTO-8 media at 12.0 TB gives them up to a massive 84 PBs, almost a 5X increase. That’s lots of room to scale as needed!

Performance also gets a big boost as LTO-6 drives are rated at 160 MB per second transfer rate compared to LTO-8 drives at 360 MB per second. This means fewer drives are required to meet the same performance objectives. As a result, TCO also gets a major boost as fewer drives, fewer pieces of media and no additional floor space or library frames are required to manage the same amount of data.

(more…)

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Video: How CERN Migrated 100PB of Data

Reading Time: < 1 minute

For over five decades, CERN has used tape for its archival storage. In this Fujifilm Summit video, Vladimir Bahyl of CERN explains how they increased the capacity of their tape archive by reformatting certain types of tape cartridges at a higher density.

 

 

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