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Observing Earth Day 2022 In Light of Record LTO Data Tape Capacity Shipments

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April 22, 2022

By Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism

The LTO Technology Provider Companies (IBM, HPE, and Quantum) issued a press release earlier this week announcing record capacity shipments for LTO in 2021 of 148 Exabytes (148,000 Petabytes) compressed (up from 105 EB compressed in 2020, +40%). More and more of the world’s data is being stored on LTO data tape. That’s good news for the IT industry! Is it not? After all, end users and service providers need:

  • A strategic way to store and protect massive amounts of increasingly valuable data, especially data that’s gone cool or cold
  • A cost-effective and reliable long term storage solution
  • An air gap defense against cybercrime
  • An eco-friendly form of storage!

 

Industry Pundits React
Some industry pundits, biased toward the HDD industry, took the opportunity to downplay the news. They said the data is inaccurate or insignificant compared to the capacity shipments for HDD last year. Really? Does tape technology threaten the market for HDD? Is it still about tape vs. disk in their minds? Have trains, trucks, and ships put air freight out of business? Or does a more strategic thought process say: “These technologies complement each other. We need both to meet the needs of end-users, storage service providers, and society itself…”

Analysts Predict Huge Zettabyte Demand
Indeed, if the big industry analysts firms are right, we will need to be storing more than 11.0 zettabytes of data in 2025. Just one zettabyte would require 55 million 18.0 TB HDDs or 55 million LTO-9 tape cartridges. Should we store all of that data on HDD, whether it is hot, warm, cool, or cold? Of course, we can’t just delete excess data. Now that we can analyze the data and derive a competitive advantage from it, the value of data has increased and we need to store more and more data for longer periods of time. As a result, the projections for the amount of persistent data to be stored are growing exponentially. We will need huge amounts of flash, HDD, tape, and even future storage solutions like DNA to address the data storage challenge.

A Strategic Approach to Data Storage
The key to success will be a strategic approach that leverages intelligent data management software to automate data movement to the right tiers of storage at the right time, the right cost, and the right energy profile. Employing a strategic approach to data storage in an effort to reduce costs and energy consumption all while maintaining service level agreements seems to make sense. Take a good look at an active archive solution, for example. Yet again, there are those industry pundits who say, the amount of energy saved by moving static, inactive, and infrequently accessed data to a tape tier is not significant in the big picture of the IT industry. The real problem they say is the amount of energy consumed by a single Google search. But isn’t that like saying; “Don’t bother turning the lights out before leaving the office for the night. It’s just a drop in the ocean of energy consumption,” or “Why bother turning off the engine of your car when filling up on gas? It’s just a few minutes of idle time and won’t really impact CO2 emissions at all.” Right?

Change of Attitude Needed
But this is the wrong attitude and exactly what has to change to make a difference. Collectively, if we all switch off a light and all turn the car’s engine off, we will make a difference. We might even get motivated for more change! How about installing LED light bulbs or investing in an electric vehicle? Or maybe make the commitment and take the leadership on a renewable energy installation. Attitudes have to change, believing we can make a difference collectively. If data is inactive, why keep it on energy-intensive, constantly spinning disk? Are we all doing whatever it takes to make a difference?

New Flagship UN Report Is a Wake-up Call
If we believe the latest studies on climate change coming out of the United Nations, we need to start quickly taking any action we can. A new UN report on climate change from earlier this month indicated that harmful carbon emissions in the last decade have never been higher in earth’s history. It’s proof that the world is on a “fast track” to climate disaster. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that it’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C. Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles, and patterns of consumption and production. Guterres adds, “This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degrees C limit” that was agreed in Paris in 2015. To limit global warming to around 1.5 C (2.7 F), the IPCC report insists that global greenhouse gas emissions will have to peak “before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030.”

Reducing Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions with Tape
To help increase awareness and understanding of energy consumption in data storage, a number of whitepapers have been published highlighting alternative options for storage including LTO data tape. A recent IDC whitepaper studied migrating cold data from HDDs to LTO tape. The opportunity to positively impact the environment by shifting to tape is staggering. This strategic approach can reduce storage-related CO2 emissions by, coincidently, 43.7% by 2030. This would avoid 664 M metric tons of CO2 cumulatively. That’s the equivalent amount of CO2 produced by 144 million passenger cars driven in the course of a year!

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% by using tape instead of HDD. At the same time, tape can provide an effective defense against cybercrime via a physical air gap. All of this is possible by taking a strategic storage approach, where cool or cold data that has aged and is infrequently accessed gets moved from expensive primary storage to economical and environmentally friendly tape systems, online or offline.

Data Center World Attendees Get It
In my last blog on my visit and presentation at Data Center World in Austin last month, I mentioned that I was encouraged by the DCW attendees that I met and listened to in my session and other sessions. They are genuinely concerned about the environment and worried about what kind of planet we will be leaving behind for our kids and grandchildren. They recognize the opportunity to improve sustainability in data center operations and are committed to it. But since then it has occurred to me that maybe sustainability is more of a focus for facility teams. Perhaps the top-down pressure from the C-suite has yet to be widely applied to the data storage management teams. However, in the quest to achieve the needed sustainability goals, no stone can remain unturned.

Observing Earth Day for Future Generations
With Earth Day being observed today, let’s commit to strategically taking action in response to global warming and climate change. Let’s start changing attitudes from “It won’t make a difference” to “Collectively, we can make a difference.” Let’s look at the bright side of increasing LTO capacity shipments instead of the dark, self-serving side. Let’s think about the planet that’s home for us and the future generations of our families to come.

 

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5 Big Predictions that will Impact Data Storage in 2022…and Beyond

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January 5, 2022

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

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.

 

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Reducing Carbon Emissions through the Data Tape Ecosystem

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April 20, 2021

By Rich Gadomski, Fujifilm, and Paul Lupino and Tom Trela, Iron Mountain

If there was ever a time for industries and governments around the world to come together and finally take steps to mitigate climate change, now would seem to be it. The return of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement and the recent U.S. –  China talks on climate change are all positive signs when it comes to moving the needle forward on sustainability initiatives. While fighting COVID-19 took center stage in 2020 and early 2021, our future depends on what we do collectively to reduce our environmental impact now and in the immediate years ahead.

It’s Hard to Deny Global Warming and Climate Change

According to an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, NASA has ranked 2020 as tied with 2016 for the warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880. In a separate assessment, NOAA  (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), which relies on slightly different temperature records and methods, calculated that the global average temperature last year was the second highest to date – just 0.04 degrees Fahrenheit shy of tying the record set in 2016.

On top of the record number of hurricanes and the wildfires out west, the recent Texas deep freeze, which caused widespread power outages and other weather-related tragedies and calamities, seems to be just one more example of climate change. Weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable, which can result in extreme heat, cold and increased intensity of natural disasters.

It is widely acknowledged that global temperatures have been rising especially in the north polar region where we have seen a dramatic shrinking of the polar ice cap. When Arctic air warms, it sets off an atmospheric phenomenon that weakens the polar vortex (the normal jet stream of wind that keeps frigid air to the north) and allows cold air to fall…as far as Texas.

Data Center Energy Consumption and the Advantage of Modern Tape Technology

The key to mitigating the worst impacts of climate change is a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases produced by humans. Producing energy is extremely resource-intensive, so reducing the amount of energy we consume in all aspects of our lives is of critical importance.

Data centers are significant consumers of energy accounting for as much as 2% of global demand and rising to 8% by some estimates. Data centers can do their part to reduce energy consumption in many ways by becoming more energy-efficient, including simply migrating the vast amounts of still valuable, but rarely accessed, “cold data”.

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Modern Tape Storage Provides Key to Reducing Data Center Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions

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Organizations across all industries are concerned about global warming and are actively looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions.  As a result, many companies have decided they must incorporate carbon reductions into their strategies and have announced green initiatives.

Fortunately for IT organizations, there is a significant opportunity to achieve meaningful carbon emissions reductions while lowering operational and capital expenses by changing the way they store their data. Researchers estimate that data centers consume 1.8% of all electricity in the United States. Within the data centers, data storage is a significant portion of total energy usage and disk systems are the primary driver of storage energy consumption.

It is estimated that up to 60% of stored information is seldom accessed, meaning that the expectation of access diminishes after 30 days. By identifying this “cold data” and moving it to modern tape storage, organizations can dramatically reduce energy consumption and associated carbon emissions while also lowering data center capital and operational expenses.

To learn more on this topic, check out this white paper from Brad Johns Consulting, “Reducing Data Center Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions with Modern Tape Storage.

 

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