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3 Reasons Why Migrating Data to Tape Systems Makes Sense in Light of SSD and HDD Supply Chain Concerns

Reading Time: 3 minutes

January 25, 2022

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

The Arrival of the Zettabyte Era
The data storage market has clearly entered the “zettabyte era” where new capacity shipments have exceeded a massive one zettabyte for a couple of years now. The data storage requirements are being driven by the phenomenon of “digital transformation” and the rising value of data that needs to be stored for longer periods of time, and in some cases, indefinitely. Further accelerating the zettabyte era is the other era we are all in, that being the “pandemic era”. With this era comes the unanticipated need for an unexpected remote workforce and the ever-expanding internet with its proliferation of online apps.

Pandemic Related Supply Shortages
The pandemic has brought with it related disruptions to the global supply chain including shortages of semiconductor chips. It’s been tough to get modern goods from toys to notebooks to refrigerators to automobiles. The combination of zettabyte and pandemic era has even put a strain on supply chains and the availability of SSDs and HDDs needed to support the digital transformation. This has been the cause of fluctuating prices based on quarterly supply and demand swings.

Supply Chain Challenges Persist
While pandemic-related labor shortages have delayed the production and distribution of goods, other factors are making matters worse. How about global warming, climate change, and the ensuing natural disasters that have had negative impacts on the supply chain? How about international rivalries and tensions impacting the availability of key components? Or cybercriminals shutting down vital infrastructure? Bottom line: industry pundits say we can expect supply chain hassles to continue throughout 2022.

Supply Chain Contingency Planning in Data Storage
Faced with supply chain risks in any industry, it’s always good to have contingency plans to mitigate risk and ensure ongoing operations. The IT industry is no exception where the availability of commodities that we may take for granted can be interrupted by any of the factors listed above from unforeseen demand to pandemic-related shortages to global warming, trade wars, and cybercrime.

A great way to avoid supply chain disruptions in the availability of primary storage devices like SSDs and HDDs is to employ intelligent data management software, typical of active archive solutions, that will automate the migration of data from these potentially supply chain affected devices to a modern, automated tape library. Since 60 to 80 percent of data quickly goes cold after a short period of time, why keep it stored on higher performing, expensive, and energy-intensive devices? Given the global supply chain uncertainty, 3 good reasons to migrate data from primary storage devices to tape storage are:

  • Free up capacity on expensive Tier 1 and Tier 2 storage devices like SSDs and HDDs in favor of TCO friendly tape systems
  • Reduce energy consumption and related CO2 emissions by leveraging the low power profile of automated tape systems
  • Take advantage of tape’s natural air gap security in the never-ending war against ransomware

The above actually makes sense even in the absence of supply chain concerns. Since data to be stored is growing at a CAGR of around 30% versus IT budget growth somewhere in the low single digits, the IT industry needs to find a more cost-effective storage solution. With the increasing value of data and indefinite retention periods, the long-term archival profile of tape coupled with best-in-class reliability actually makes sense.

Fighting Climate Change and Cybercrime
Finally, we all have to engage in the battle against global warming and climate change if we are to preserve the planet that we inhabit. Studies show that tape systems consume 87% less energy than equivalent amounts of disk storage and produce 95% less CO2 emissions than disk over the product lifecycle. Other studies show that collectively, the global IT industry could avoid as much as 664 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by strategically moving more data to tape systems.  As data cools off or goes cold, it should migrate to less expensive, less energy-intensive, and more secure tiers of storage.

Once the pandemic era finally subsides, it will be environmental calamities brought on by climate change and the relentless threat of cybercriminals that will have long-term impacts on supply chains.

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THE ASCENT TO HYPERSCALE – Part 2

Reading Time: 2 minutes

July 1, 2020

By Rich Gadomski, Tape Evangelist at Fujifilm Recording Media, U.S.A., Inc.

Part 2: CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HYPERSCALE DATA CENTER

In Part 1 of this series, we looked explored the definition of hyperscale data centers. Now, we’ll take a look at some of the key characteristics.

HSDCs don’t publicly share an abundance of information about their infrastructure. For companies who will operate HSDCs, the cost may be the major barrier to entry, but ultimately it isn’t the biggest issue – automation is. HSDCs must focus heavily on automating and self-healing environments by using AI and ML whenever possible to overcome inevitable and unexpected failures and delays. Unlike many enterprise data centers, which rely on a large full-time staff across a range of disciplines, HSDCs employ fewer tech experts because they have used technology to automate so much of the overall management process. HSDC characteristics include:

  • Small footprint, dense racks–HSDCs squeeze servers, SSDs (Solid State Disks) and HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) directly into the rack itself, as opposed to separate SANs or DAS to achieve the smallest possible footprint (heavy use of racks). HSDC racks are typically larger than standard 19” racks.
  • Automation–Hyperscale storage tends to be software- defined and is benefitting from AI delivering a higher degree of automation and self-healing minimizing direct human involvement. AI will support automated data migration between tiers to further optimize storage assets.
  • Users–The HSDC typically serves millions of users with only a few applications, whereas in a conventional enterprise there are fewer users but many more applications.
  • Virtualization–The facilities also implement very high degrees of virtualization, with as many operating system images running on each physical server as possible.
  • Tape storage adoption–Automated tape libraries are on the rise to complement SSDs and HDDs to easily scale capacity, manage and contain out of control data growth, store archival and unstructured data, significantly lower infrastructure and energy costs, and provide hacker-proof cybercrime security via the tape air gap.
  • Fast scaling bulk storage–HSDCs require fast, easy scaling storage capacity. One petabyte using 15 TB disk drives requires 67 drives and one exabyte requires 66,700 15 TB drives. Tape easily scales capacity by adding media, disk scales by adding drives.
  • Minimal feature set–Hyperscale storage has a minimal, stripped-down feature set and may even lack redundancy as the goal is to maximize storage space and minimize cost.
  • Energy challenges–High power consumption and increasing carbon emissions has forced HSDCs to develop new energy sources to reduce and more effectively manage energy expenses.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll take a look at the how the value of tape is rapidly rising as hyperscale data centers grow. For more information on this topic, download our white paper: The Ascent to Hyperscale.

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