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.