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

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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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Hollywood Rebound and the 7 Starring Roles of LTO Tape

Reading Time: 2 minutes

July 14, 2021

By Tony Ling, Director of Sales, Fujifilm Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.

After the initial shock and disruption of the pandemic, one industry that has rebounded nicely is the world of Media & Entertainment (M&E). Hollywood, video production, and post-production companies have adapted to making films in a COVID environment. At the same time, streaming grew significantly with most of the population homebound. Services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Paramount all reported record subscriber growth over the last 15 months…..driving up the demand for new and original content.

Today, the retention and accessibility of digital assets and video content are incredibly vital to maintaining a competitive advantage. As a result, many modern M&E companies continue to assign starring roles to LTO data tape in their workflows to combat the rising expense associated with retaining and protecting capacity-intensive high-res content. 4K, 8K, 3D, and special effects can result in petabytes of storage for a single production!

With its high capacity, reliability, interchangeability, and security, the industry standard for deliverables has long been LTO tape…..this could be anything from daily camera footage, to post/edited work, approval copies, second copies, versions, final product, archival copies, etc. LTO tape is truly a defacto standard and an accepted part of the workflow in the M&E world.

Why are leading M&E companies turning to tape?

More M&E companies are recognizing the advantages of LTO tape, which can store massive amounts of data and combat ever-increasing storage costs across production, post-production, distribution, or archiving. Tape’s starring roles include:

  • Extremely cost-effective with the lowest TCO in the industry
  • Highly reliable with best in class bit error rates
  • Secure with drive encryption and ease of offline storage to prevent cybercrime
  • Portable for file sharing between locations
  • Scalable to extremely large capacities with LTO-8 cartridge capacity now at 12.0 TB native and LTO-9 coming soon at 18.0 TB
  • Open LTFS standard to allow for easy interchange of files
  • Eco-friendly consuming 87% less energy than equal amounts of HDD

LTO tape is an ideal solution for M&E companies. LTO is an open format designed for interoperability and together with LTFS, provides easy data access and management—perfect for easy file share, high performance, and improved workflow.

So, the next time you are streaming Star Trek Discovery on Paramount+ or The Mandalorian on Disney+, just remember that somewhere along the way of the making of that show, an LTO tape played a starring role!

 

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Fujifilm’s Tape Evangelist on The Future of Tape Storage

Reading Time: 4 minutes

December 18, 2020

In this Executive Q&A, Rich Gadomski, Fujifilm’s Head of Tape Evangelism, discusses the evolution of tape storage and how recent innovations and advancements in tape technology are putting it at center stage.

Explain your role as Tape Evangelist for FUJIFILM Recording Media, U.S.A.

I believe tape technology has a compelling value proposition and a great story to tell. I want to be focused on telling that story and that is my primary role. Of course, it takes a team and we all do our part, but this is what I’m passionate about and want to focus on.

How has the tape storage industry changed over the years?

Tape technology has come a long way since its introduction in the 1950s where we had reel-to-reel tape that could hold just a few megabytes of data. Today we have LTO tape in the market at 12 TB native and enterprise tape at 20TB. Just looking at LTO which came out 20 years ago, it was LTO Gen 1 in 2000 with 100GB of capacity. We expect LTO-9 soon at 18TB so a 180x increase. And just recently we announced a joint demonstration with IBM showing that we can reach up to 580 TB on a single cartridge with our next generation of magnetic particle called Strontium Ferrite. But it’s not just about capacity increases, tape has also made advancements in transfer rate, now faster than HDD, reliability rating, now three or four magnitudes better than HDD and it’s the greenest form of storage consuming far less energy than constantly spinning HDD and this contributes to its lowest total cost of ownership. But today it’s not about tape vs. HDD, in fact, the two technologies complement each other to help customers optimize their data storage.

Why is tape storage still relevant today? What is driving demand for this technology?

I would say first and foremost the incredible amount of data that’s being created in this digital economy. Add to the fact that the value of data is increasing so we want to store more of it for longer periods of time. Yet, IT budgets are flat or barely increasing, so you need a high capacity, highly reliable storage media that is cost-effective for long-term storage and that’s what tape gives you. So tape plays a role in cold archiving, active archiving and yes, backup as well. In fact, tape has renewed interest from customers in the fight against cybercrime and ransomware since customers can easily backup to tape and remove those backups from the network to an isolated and secure location that hackers can’t get to. That’s what we refer to as the tape air gap. Last but not least is energy consumption. Society is rightfully concerned about climate change. Tape consumes 87% less energy than disk and that leads to 87% less CO2 emissions.

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Tape is Undeniably The Most Reliable Storage Solution Available – Period!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Ken Kajikawa,
OEM Technical Support Manager
FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc.

Did you know 96,000 petabytes (PB) of total compressed tape capacity shipped in 2016? To put that into perspective, that’s over 326,000 years of 24/7 Full HD video! But why do so many companies depend on tape if primary backup can be faster to disk or cheaper in the short-term to the cloud?

For starters, mid-size and enterprise companies produce reams of digital data that they must retain for long periods of time and tape provides more reliability than disk—at a significantly lower total cost of ownership. For most companies, data is their most prized possession, and LTO tape provides reliable, offline protection against on-line data corruption. For mid-sized to enterprise companies, by diversifying their storage practice, they can depend on their data from tape always being there when they need it.

Don’t listen to the hype from fancy providers; LTO tape is actually the most reliable solution available, with bit error rates that best those of disk. The bit error rate (BER) predicts the percentage of faulty bits per total number of written bits. Tape’s reliability is an impressive 100 times more reliable than Flash SSD, 1,000 times more reliable than Fibre Channel & SAS HDD, and an outstanding 10,000 more reliable than enterprise SATA disks (Source: Supplier Data, Horison, Inc.).

Our friends at LTO.org helped put this into perspective: for LTO-7 tape, that would be 1 error event in every 200,000 LTO-7 cartridges (1.25 exabytes) compared to 1 error event in every 20 enterprises 6 TB SATA disks (125 TB). Clearly, LTO Ultrium tape is designed to deliver outstanding reliability.

Additionally, an ESG audit found that the new Error Detection/Correction Code in LTO-7 Ultrium tape technology was so advanced that customers would be more likely to be struck by lightning or killed by a shark than hit an uncorrectable error when saving data to tape. Below are some fun probabilities:

  • Getting hit by lightning; the odds are one in a million.
  • Getting killed by a shark; the odds are one in 11.5 million.
  • Winning a multi-million dollar lottery; the odds are 1 in 259 million.
  • Getting an uncorrectable error using LTO-7 media; the odds are one in 10 quintillion

Not only is LTO tape reliable, but it is also durable enough to withstand the test of time. LTO Tape provides users with a shelf-life of over 30 years—unlike disk that has a shelf-life of 3-5 years. Additionally, advancements in technologies like Barium Ferrite ensure longer archival life with no loss of magnetic signal.

We all know data volumes are growing explosively while IT budgets are remaining stagnant; the most effective solution to this problem is a low-cost, highly reliable and high capacity tape storage system. There is no doubt some of your backup/achieved data will need to reside on disk, but with astounding reliability and its cost advantaged most of your backup/archive data should reside on tape.

 

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Lonely in Bedford

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Andy Feather
Sr. Director, Engineering & Technical Services
FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc

Ever hear of the Maytag repairman commercials? It was a role played by actor Jesse White (thank you Google). Because Maytag machines were so reliable, he never got any work and was the loneliest guy in town. Sometimes I wonder if our technical support engineers here at our factory in Bedford, MA suffer the same fate thanks to the reliability of today’s tape technology.

But I do have a tech support story I want to share. Not long ago, I got a call from Brookhaven National Labs out in Long Island, N.Y. They reported that an LTO-6 tape was mechanically malfunctioning and could not be accessed by their drives. They asked if we could we take a look at it, fix it and send it back because this was an important tape containing client data.

Our tech support engineers received the tape by express mail within a day of the complaint. The first step was to analyze the cartridge memory chip data, and it was determined that there were no error messages. The production history was reviewed, and there were no indications of any issues at the time that the cartridge was manufactured. Upon physical inspection it became apparent that the leader pin and clip were dislodged. The cartridge was x-rayed in order to determine if the leader pin and clip were still inside the cartridge. The x-ray results (see photo below) revealed that the leader pin and clip were still intact, but stuck inside the cartridge.

The leader pin had become dislodged but this was not caused by a manufacturing defect. Two possible causes were either mishandling of the cartridge, or there was an issue with one of Brookhaven’s drives which caused the leader pin to not be returned correctly into the leader pin spring. The cartridge memory data showed that data was successfully written multiple times before the issue occurred. Brookhaven was advised of the drive serial number needing investigation for possible issues.

The tech support engineers then proceeded to remove the barcode label and unscrew the cartridge in order to access the dislodged leader pin. The leader pin was properly repositioned and clamped. The barcode label was reprinted and reapplied. The cartridge was returned to Brookhaven the next day via express service. All of this was much to Brookhaven’s relief, and the client’s data was restored without much delay.

Brookhaven shared with us that they have written more than 100 PB of data on LTO tape. Regarding LTO-6 alone, they have 21,235 tapes in their environment with a total of 1,644,440 mounts. Only one tape had the problem shared above, and it was fixed in a day.

How can our “Maytag team” help you? We are here to support you on any aspect of tape media operation and performance. Beyond media, we can refer you to the right supporting hardware and software vendors or 3rd party service providers. Just let us know!

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