I had the opportunity to attend in person and present on the latest in tape technology at the 16th Annual Flash Memory Summit (FMS) held in Santa Clara last week. That’s right, tape technology at a flash conference. My friends from the DNA Data Storage Alliance were there presenting too. So what gives?
In this executive Q & A, Tom Nakatani, president of FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. (FRMU) discusses how tape technology plays a vital role in the world of data storage now and in the future.
Q1) Tell us a bit about yourself, your career at Fujifilm and how you ended up as president of FRMU?
I don’t like to age myself, but I have been in the Recording Media Business for 25 years since I joined Fujifilm in 1997. I worked primarily in international sales and marketing, responsible for key customers and partners. I also spent about six years at the European headquarters in Germany. Most recently I was assigned as VP of Sales and Marketing in the U.S. in September of 2020 before being appointed president of FRMU as of July 1st of this year. As president, I am responsible for the sales and profitability of this division including our Bedford manufacturing facility. I’m pleased to say Bedford is a world class operation with many cutting edge technologies and sustainability initiatives in place. It’s also the world’s largest LTO manufacturing facility, producing the greenest form of storage. But our biggest asset is our team of employees across the organization, from coast to coast, dedicated to exceptional customer satisfaction.
Q2) What are some of the biggest challenges facing the data storage industry today?
I think the biggest challenge starts with the ongoing and escalating digital transformation that is generating more data than we ever could have imagined even ten years ago. We are now firmly in the zettabyte age where we have a tendency to keep everything indefinitely and we’re afraid to delete anything. And rightfully so, as the value of data has increased and in many ways it is the new currency in this digital economy.
But the question is, how can we continue to manage ever increasing volumes of data that are growing exponentially? How can the industry afford it from a TCO perspective and from an energy consumption perspective? The IT industry needs to reduce its impact on global warming and climate change. And how do we protect the data from theft or ransomware? The IT industry needs a cost-effective way to prevent unauthorized access by securing data in offline, offsite locations.
These are significant challenges but tape solutions are part of the answer. It simply requires a strategic approach to data management and getting the right data in the right place at the right time. Why keep inactive data on 24/7 spinning disk that costs a lot and consumes a lot of energy? Why not move it to modern automated tape systems to reduce cost and CO2 footprint? This will free up HDD space for new, active data! Why not make a low cost copy of the data on tape and send it offsite for cyber security reasons? These solutions are available and are being practiced by the most technologically advanced and data intensive customers in the world today including the major hyperscalers.
Q3) How is FRMU innovating to address these challenges?
Together with our global Recording Media colleagues around the world we continue to bring innovative new products and solutions to market. Our tape technology provides the world’s leading companies with high-capacity data storage solutions to help them manage the increasing volumes of valuable data that we just discussed. Our recent release of LTO-9 with 18 TB native and up to 45 TB of compressed capacity is a good example. According to recent studies by industry experts, LTO-9 is even more energy efficient than previous generations of LTO and when compared to HDD can reduce CO2e by more than 95%. In addition, our Bedford facility has come up with innovative ways to custom package our tape products according to specific customer requirements for ease of use and sustainability goals. Our engineering teams have developed diagnostic tools to maximize performance of tape systems for some of our largest customers. We are also very excited about the innovation we are bringing to the object storage market. Our S3 compatible Object Archive software enables access to low cost tape storage with high reliability and security for long term archiving and preservation of valuable but low access data sets.
Q4) What role do you think tape will play in the future?
We believe organizations and enterprises of all kinds will continue to rely on our products for long-term, reliable, secure, eco-friendly and cost-effective data protection and retention. This includes backup for cybersecurity and ransomware protection to active archive for infrequently accessed data to cold archive for so much of the data that is rarely accessed but still has value and can’t be deleted. We have the fundamental building blocks in place to continue increasing areal density and capacity of magnetic linear tape well into the future based on magnetic particle science such as Barium Ferrite, Strontium Ferrite and even Epsilon Ferrite in the more distant future. Our most recent technology demo with IBM showed the potential for 580 TB of native capacity on a single LTO sized cartridge. That’s a lot of data but it’s what will eventually be needed to store and protect data beyond the zettabyte age in an economical and energy efficient manner. I’m sure that advancements will also continue in flash and HDD or new technologies like DNA data storage will come along. But I believe all these technologies will be needed and will complement each other.
After a two year hiatus due to COVID, Fujifilm’s 12th Annual Global IT Executive Summit took place last week in beautiful, warm and sunny San Diego. This year’s Summit theme was “Optimizing storage in the post-Covid, zettabyte age” where organizations have to do more with fewer resources while the value, volumes and retention periods of data continue to increase unabated. It was so good to once again interact face-to-face with members of the storage industry family including around a hundred or so customers, vendors, industry analysts, and storage industry experts during the 3 day event.
About The Summit For those not familiar with the Summit, it is an educational conference featuring presentations from industry experts, analysts, vendors and end users about the latest trends, best practices and future developments in data management and storage. A concluding speaker panel with Q & A and peer-to-peer networking opportunities throughout the agenda truly make the Summit a unique storage industry event.
Key End User and Vendor Presentations Similar to past Summits (we last convened in San Francisco in October of 2019) we enjoyed presentations from key end users including AWS, CERN, Meta/Facebook and Microsoft Azure. These end users are on the leading edge of innovation and in many ways are pioneering a path forward in the effective management of vast volumes of data growing exponentially every year.
From the vendor community, we were treated to the latest updates and soon to be unveiled products and solutions from Cloudian, IBM, Quantum, Spectra Logic, Twist Bioscience (DNA data storage) and Western Digital (HDD). The tape vendors shined a light on the continuing innovations in tape solutions including improvements in ease-of-use and maintenance of automated tape libraries as reviewed by Quantum. New tape applications abound from object storage on tape in support of hybrid cloud strategies as explained by Cloudian and Spectra, to the advantages of sustainable tape storage presented by IBM. It’s not a question of if, but when organizations will need to seriously address carbon emissions related to storage devices. After all: “no planet, no need for storage” quipped one attendee. Also included in the tape application discussions were the massive cold data archiving operations as presented by CERN and the hyper scale cloud service providers.
Finally from the world of tape, was a chilling, harrowing tale of a real life ransomware attack experienced by Spectra Logic and how their own tape products contributed to the safe protection of their data with the simple principal of a tape air gap.
Need for Archival Storage We also heard about the latest updates in the progress of DNA data storage from Twist Bioscience and where the world of HDD is going from Western Digital. We are now firmly in the zettabyte age with an expected 11 zettabytes of persistent data to be stored by 2025. Just one zettabyte would require 55 million 18TB HDDs or 55 million LTO-9 tapes. As an industry we are going to need a lot of archival storage! That includes future technologies like DNA, advanced HDDs, optical discs, and of course, highly advanced modern tape solutions. Tape will continue to deliver the lowest TCO, lowest energy consumption and excellent cybersecurity. All the while tape is supported by a roadmap with increasing cartridge capacities to meet market demand as it unfolds. Certainly, the cloud service providers will leverage all of these storage media at some point as they fine tune their SLAs and prices for serving hot data to cold archival data.
Fred Moore, Horison Information Strategies
Analysts Share Future Vision From the analyst community, we were treated to a visionary storage industry outlook from Fred Moore, president of Horison Information Strategies who shared the fact that 80% of all data quickly becomes archival and is best maintained in the lower tiers of his famed storage pyramid as an active archive or cold archive. Following Fred was important data from Brad Johns Consulting that showed the 18X sustainability advantage of eco-friendly tape systems compared to energy intensive HDDs. While we need both technologies, and they are indeed complementary, a tremendous opportunity exists for the storage industry to reduce carbon emissions by simply moving cold, inactive data from HDD to tape systems.
Rounding out the analyst presentations was Philippe Nicolas of Coldago Research with some valuable insights into end user storage requirements and preferences in both the U.S. and Europe.
Innovation from an Industry Expert From the realm of storage industry experts, we had a compelling talk from Jay Bartlett of Cozaint. With his expertise in the video surveillance market, Jay shared how the boom in video surveillance applications is becoming unsustainable from a retention of content perspective. It will become increasingly cost prohibitive to retain high definition video surveillance footage on defacto-standard HDD storage solutions. Jay revealed a breakthrough allowing for the seamless integration of tier 2 LTO tape with a cost savings benefit of 50%! No longer will we need to rely on grainy, compromised video evidence.
Final Thoughts The Summit wrapped up with a speaker panel moderated by IT writer and analyst, Philippe Nicolas. One big take away from this session was that while innovation is happening, it will need to continue in the future if we are to effectively store the zettabytes to come. Innovation means investment in R&D and production of new solutions, perhaps even hybrid models of existing technologies. That investment can’t come from the vendors alone and the hyper scalers will need to have some skin in the game.
In conclusion, the Summit was long overdue. The storage eco-system is a family from end users to vendors, to analysts and experts. As a family we learn from each other and help each other. That’s what families do. Fujifilm was pleased to bring the family together from around the globe under one roof, for frank and open discussion that will help solve the challenges we and our society are facing.
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.
I think it’s safe to say people like surveys, probably not everyone, but most people do. Why? Experts in the field suggest that people are willing to take surveys because respondents feel their opinions are valued and that their answers will be used and may even result in a benefit to society. They feel their participation will impact something they care about, and they want to share their opinion with those who will listen and act on the information.
Surveying the C-Suite on Sustainability So it’s not surprising that Fujifilm got a great response rate to a recently launched survey entitled Awareness Survey on Environmental Issues in the Digital Domain. As many as 1,200 C-suite professionals responded including CEOs, CFOs, CSOs, CTOs, and CIOs from companies of 100 or more employees in the United States, Germany, Japan, and China.
The survey revealed that there is a growing awareness around broader environmental issues among corporate leaders, and that’s great news as the negative impacts of global warming and climate change keep piling up, flood after flood, wildfire after wildfire, and storm after storm.
When it comes to IT infrastructure specifically, the majority of U.S. respondents believe sustainability improvements in IT services and equipment can positively impact climate change, but 40% indicated that they did not know or were unsure if data storage can have a negative environmental impact and increase the cost of doing business.
Increasing Data Storage Requirements Data storage can certainly be energy-intensive. This is a problem that is only getting worse as the value of data rises with the ability to analyze and derive competitive advantage from it. As a result, demand for long-term data retention is increasing. In fact, data to be stored is expected to grow from just 2.0 zettabytes in 2016 to 4.1 ZB in 2020 and is expected to reach 11.1 ZB in 2025 according to a recent whitepaper from IDC. Just one ZB is a vast amount of data equal to one million petabytes that would need 55 million 18 TB hard disk drives (HDDs) or 55 million 18 TB LTO-9 tapes to store. The environmental impact of the energy required to support this volume of storage is greatly underestimated, as are the associated carbon emissions. When asked in the survey what barriers exist for those who have not considered more eco-friendly data storage options, 31% in the U.S. cited a lack of awareness or understanding of the issue.
Hot vs. Cold Data There was also a lack of awareness pertaining to frequently accessed “hot” data and less frequently accessed “cold” data, with 36% of respondents saying they either don’t or are unsure if they differentiate between the two. And 35% don’t realize that differentiating between hot and cold data can impact sustainability, affordability, and security. An interesting fact about data is that it quickly goes cold and access frequency drops off significantly after just 30, 60, or even 90 days. In fact, industry analysts estimate that 60% to 80% of all data stored is cold and qualifies as “archival”. Yet through inertia, that data often remains on energy intensive, constantly spinning and heat-producing tiers of storage like hard disk drives.
Reducing Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions with Tape To help increase awareness and understanding of this issue, a number of whitepapers have been published highlighting alternative options for storage including LTO data tape. A recent IDC whitepaper shows how migrating cold data from HDDs to LTO tape can reduce data centers’ CO2 emissions by 43.7% by 2030, avoiding 664 M metric tons of CO2 cumulatively. 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% using tape instead of HDD. All of this is possible by taking a storage optimization approach, where data that has aged and is infrequently accessed, otherwise known as cold data, gets moved from expensive primary storage like solid-state flash drives and HDDs to economical and environmentally friendly tape systems.
As far as security is concerned, tape is also playing a role in cybercrime prevention with air gap capabilities, WORM, and encryption. Intelligent data management software, typical in today’s active archive environments, can automatically move data from expensive, energy-intensive tiers of storage to more economical and energy-efficient tiers based on user-defined policies. By moving inactive data out of primary storage, the ransomware attack surface can also be reduced.
Renewable Energy Plus Conservation Another interesting point from the survey reveals that 51% of participants said that their companies are using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, while 22% said they are doing so via climate protection projects and 13% through carbon offsets. Renewable energy is a key factor in reducing CO2 emissions and Fujifilm is a fan (see photo at right of our LTO plant in Bedford, MA). But alone renewables likely can’t come online fast enough or cheaply enough to keep up with data growth rates of between 30% – 60% annually in major data centers today. That’s why conservation has to be part of the equation. The very first metric to be analyzed in data center energy efficiency is simply the amount of energy that’s being consumed.
Alternative Data Storage Options Finally, 81% of respondents noted that they would consider an alternative data storage option that is more sustainable and affordable. That option exists in the form of today’s modern and highly advanced data tape systems that offer the lowest energy consumption and cost profile. Add to that its best-in-class reliability rating of any storage media and longest archival life. So for the benefit of society, let’s act on the information that the survey reveals. It’s really just a question of getting the right data, in the right place, at the right time.
The newly released whitepaper from IT analyst firm ESG (Enterprise Strategy Group), sponsored by IBM and Fujifilm, entitled, “How Tape Technology Delivers Value in Modern Data-driven Businesses,” focuses on exciting, new advances in tape technology that are now positioning tape for a critical role in effective data protection and retention in the age of zettabyte (ZB) storage. That’s right “zettabyte storage!”
The whitepaper cites the need to store 17 ZB of persistent data by 2025. This includes “cold data” stored long-term and rarely accessed that is estimated to account for 80% of all data stored today. Just one ZB is a tremendous amount of data equal to one million petabytes that would need 55 million 18 TB hard drives or 55 million 18 TB LTO-9 tapes to store. Just like the crew in the movie Jaws needed a bigger boat, the IT industry is going to need higher capacity SSDs, HDDs, and higher density tape cartridges! On the tape front, help is on the way as demonstrated by IBM and Fujifilm in the form of a potential 580 TB capacity tape cartridge. Additional highlights from ESG’s whitepaper are below.
New Tape Technology IBM and Fujifilm set a new areal density record of 317 Gb/sq. inch on linear magnetic tape translating to a potential cartridge capacity of 580 TB native featuring a new magnetic particle called Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) with the ability to deliver capacities that extend well beyond disk, LTO, and enterprise tape roadmaps. SrFe magnetic particles are 60% smaller than the current defacto standard Barium Ferrite magnetic particles yet exhibit even better magnetic signal strength and archival life. On the hardware front, the IBM team has developed tape head enhancements and servo technologies to leverage even narrower data tracks to contribute to the increase in capacity.
The Case for Tape at Hyperscalers and Others Hyperscale data centers are major new consumers of tape technologies due to their need to manage massive data volumes while controlling costs. Tape is allowing hyperscalers including cloud service providers to achieve business objectives by providing data protection for critical assets, archival capabilities, easy capacity scaling, the lowest TCO, high reliability, fast throughput, low power consumption, and air gap protection. But tape also makes sense for small to large enterprise data centers facing the same data growth challenges including the need to scale their environments while keeping their costs down.
Data Protection, Archive, Resiliency, Intelligent Data Management According to an ESG survey revealed in the whitepaper, tape users identified reliability, cybersecurity, long archival life, low cost, efficiency, flexibility, and capacity as top attributes in tape usage today and favor tape for its long-term value. Data is growing relentlessly with longer retention periods as the value of data is increasing thanks to the ability to apply advanced analytics to derive a competitive advantage. Data is often kept for longer periods to meet compliance, regulatory, and for corporate governance reasons. Tape is also playing a role in cybercrime prevention with WORM, encryption, and air gap capabilities. Intelligent data management software, typical in today’s active archive environments, automatically moves data from expensive, energy-intensive tiers of storage to more economical and energy-efficient tiers based on user-defined policies.
ESG concludes that tape is the strategic answer to the many challenges facing data storage managers including the growing amount of data as well as TCO, cybersecurity, scalability, reliability, energy efficiency, and more. IBM and Fujifilm’s technology demonstration ensures the continuing role of tape as data requirements grow in the future and higher capacity media is required for cost control with the benefit of CO2 reductions among others. Tape is a powerful solution for organizations that adopt it now!
If 2020 will be remembered for the global COVID pandemic, 2021 will hopefully be remembered as the year global warming and climate change took center stage. This year has certainly had more than its fair share of climate change-related natural disasters from extreme weather caused by a warming of the polar regions, to raging forest fires, to flooding across the globe. Consumers, governments, and organizations are taking notice and action. Carbon reduction pledges are being made as sustainability is now a strategic imperative for business leaders across all industries.
The Energy Intensive IT Industry
The IT industry is not exempt from sustainability mandates. The IT industry is said to consume 2% to 3% of the world’s electrical supply and this number is expected to rise in the years ahead amidst the rapid expansion of digital transformation and exponential data growth. Data centers are major consumers of energy and are looking for ways to become more sustainable.
The Need for Energy Conservation
A new IDC whitepaper, sponsored by Fujifilm, entitled “Accelerating Green Datacenter Progress with Sustainable Storage Strategies” provides an in-depth analysis of the significant energy savings and resulting CO2 emissions reduction that can be achieved by moving more data from energy-intensive storage mediums like hard disk drive arrays to environmentally friendly tape storage.
For data center operators, much focus has been placed on renewable sources of energy but renewables can’t come online fast enough or cheaply enough to keep up with digital transformation and the rapid growth of data. Therefore, energy conservation must also be the focus of every large data center operator.
Storing Zettabytes of Cold Data
The IDC report shows that data to be stored has grown from 2.0 zettabytes (ZB) in 2016 to 4.1 ZB in 2020 and is expected to reach 11.1 ZB in 2025. Just one ZB is a vast amount of data equal to one million petabytes that would need 55 million 18 TB hard drives or 55 million 18 TB LTO-9 tapes to store.
An interesting fact about data is that it quickly goes cold and access frequency drops off significantly after just 30, 60 or even 90 days. In fact, industry analysts project that 60% to 80% of all data stored is cold and qualifies as “archival.” Yet through inertia, that data often remains on energy-intensive, constantly spinning and heat-producing tiers of storage like hard disk drives. Tape does not consume any power unless being read or written to by a tape drive. As such, tape supports green data center initiatives with its ability to store data near-line in an active archive or offline without consuming power, and thereby reducing CO2 emissions.
Reducing CO2 Emissions with Tape
The IDC paper shows that in a certain scenario if more of the world’s data is appropriately designated as archival and migrated to tape, a 43.7% reduction in CO2 can be achieved over the forecast period. This equates to an avoidance of 664 million metric tons of CO2 (equal to CO2 produced by 144 million passenger vehicles in one year or 80 million homes in one year).
Company leaders should indeed evaluate all IT resources through a lens of sustainability. Doing so will uncover the environmental benefits of shifting more data to today’s modern and highly advanced tape storage.
For the complete details, you can access the full IDC report here.
As recently announced by Fujifilm, LTO-9 has arrived and is available for immediate delivery. It certainly comes at a time when the IT industry is so challenged to manage rampant data growth, control costs, reduce carbon footprint and fight off cyber-attacks. LTO-9 is coming to market just in time to meet all of these challenges with the right features like capacity, low cost, energy efficiency, and cyber security.
What a Great Run for LTO First of all, it is remarkable to look at how far LTO Ultrium technology has come since its introduction. LTO made its market debut in 2000 with the first generation LTO-1 at 100/200 GB native/compressed capacity with 384 data tracks. Transfer rate was just 20 MB native and 40 MB compressed per second. Fast forward 21 years to the availability of LTO-9 now with 18/45 TB native/ compressed capacity on 8,960 data tracks, with transfer rate increasing to 400 MB per second, 1,000 MB per second compressed! In terms of compressed capacity, that’s a 225X increase compared to LTO-1. Since 2000, Fujifilm alone has manufactured and sold over 170 million LTO tape cartridges, a pretty good run indeed.
Capacity to Absorb Bloated Data Sets We are firmly in the zettabyte age now and it’s no secret that data is growing faster than most organizations can handle. With compound annual data growth rates of 30 to 60% for most organizations, keeping data protected for the long term is increasingly challenging. Just delete it you say? That’s not an option as the value of data is increasing rapidly thanks to the many analytics tools we now have to derive value from it. If we can derive value from that data, even older data sets, then we want to keep it indefinitely. But this data can’t economically reside on Tier 1 or Tier 2 storage. Ideally, it will move to Tier 3 tape as an archive or active archive where online access can be maintained. LTO-9 is perfect for this application thanks to its large capacity (18 TB native, 45 TB compressed) and high data transfer rate (400 MB sec native, 1,000 MB sec compressed).
Lowest TCO to Help Control Costs Understanding your true total cost of ownership is of vital importance today as exponential data growth continues unabated. The days of just throwing more disk at storage capacity issues without any concern for cost are long gone. In fact, studies show that IT budgets on average are growing at less than 2.0% annually yet data growth is in the range of 30% to 60%. That’s a major disconnect! When compared to disk or cloud options, automated tape systems have the lowest TCO profile even for relatively low volumes of data less than one petabyte. And for larger workloads, the TCO is even more compelling. Thanks to LTO-9’s higher capacity and fast transfer rate, the efficiency of automated tape systems will improve keeping the TCO advantage firmly on tape’s side.
Lowest Energy Profile to Reduce Carbon Footprint Perhaps of even greater concern these days are the environmental impacts of energy-intensive IT operations and their negative effect on global warming and climate change. You may have thought 2020 was a pretty bad year, being tied for the hottest year on record with 2016. Remember the raging forest fires out West or the frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms? Well, it turns out 2021 is just as bad if not worse with the Caldor Fire and Hurricane IDA fresh in our memory.
Tape technology has a major advantage in terms of energy consumption as tape systems require no energy unless tapes are being read or written to in a tape drive. Otherwise, tapes that are idle in a library slot or vaulted offsite consume no energy. As a result, the CO2 footprint is significantly lower than always on disk systems, constantly spinning and generating heat that needs to be cooled. Studies show that tape systems consume 87% less energy and therefore produce 87% less CO2 than equivalent amounts of disk storage in the actual usage phase. More recent studies show that when you look at the total life cycle from raw materials and manufacturing to distribution, usage, and disposal, tape actually produces 95% less CO2 than disk. When you consider that 60% to 80% of data quickly gets cold with the frequency of access dropping off after just 30, 60, or 90 days, it only makes sense to move that data from expensive, energy-intensive tiers of storage to inexpensive energy-efficient tiers like tape. The energy profile of tape only improves with higher capacity generations such as LTO-9.
A Last Line of Defense Against Cybercrime Once again, 2021 is just as bad if not worse than 2020 when it comes to cybercrime and ransomware attacks. Every webinar you attend on this subject will say something to the effect of: “it’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when you will become the next ransomware victim.” The advice from the FBI is pretty clear: “Backup your data, system images, and configurations, test your backups, and keep backups offline.”
This is where the tape air gap plays an increasingly important role. Tape cartridges have always been designed to be easily removable and portable in support of any disaster recovery scenario. Thanks to the low total cost of ownership of today’s high-capacity automated tape systems, keeping a copy of mission-critical data offline, and preferably offsite, is economically feasible – especially considering the prevalence of ransomware attacks and the associated costs of recovery, ransom payments, lost revenue, profit, and fines.
In the event of a breach, organizations can retrieve a backup copy from tape systems, verify that it is free from ransomware and effectively recover. The high capacity of LTO-9 makes this process even more efficient, with fewer pieces of media moving to and from secure offsite locations.
The Strategic Choice for a Transforming World LTO-9 is the “strategic” choice for organizations because using tape to address long-term data growth and volume is strategic, adding disk is simply a short-term tactical measure. It’s easy to just throw more disks at the problem of data growth, but if you are being strategic about it, you invest in a long-term tape solution.
The world is “transforming” amidst the COVID pandemic as everyone has to do more with less and budgets are tight, digital transformation has accelerated, and we are now firmly in the zettabyte age which means we have more data to manage efficiently, cost-effectively, and in an environmentally friendly way. The world is also transforming as new threats like cybercrime become a fact of life, not just a rare occurrence that happens to someone else. In this respect, LTO-9 indeed comes to market at the right time with the right features to meet all of these challenges.
In this Q&A, we talk to Andy Feather, Sr. Director, Engineering & Technical Services at FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. about the company’s tape manufacturing process and robust sustainability efforts.
How long has Fujifilm been manufacturing LTO tapes in the U.S.?
We first started LTO tape manufacturing here in Bedford in September 2003. This was the start of LTO-1 and we have made every generation since then up to the current LTO-8.
How has the manufacturing process changed over the years?
At the start of LTO production, as with most start-up manufacturing processes, it was a very manual process, over the years we have added more and more automation. We’ve also refined our methods for controlling the manufacturing equipment so, for example, on the winding machines, we focus on preventive maintenance and sophisticated process control to monitor the quality during the tape winding process. This allows us to reduce the dependence on testing cartridges after they have been wound.
In our packaging operations, we have focused on improvements for the environment. We’ve introduced soy-based inks for all our printed materials and we’ve eliminated most of the paper instruction sheets and user labels. We’ve switched to recycled paper and corrugated and reduced the thickness of the plastic cases. In our latest “bulk” packaging design we have eliminated corrugated completely and reduced the use of plastic shrink film to the absolute bare minimum.
“Having our manufacturing facility in the U.S. allows us to respond quickly to any customer request.” – Andy Feather
What are the advantages of having a manufacturing facility located in the U.S.?
Having our manufacturing facility in the U.S. allows us to respond quickly to any customer request. Much of our production volume is customized with barcode labels specific to a customer’s order. We can receive the order, custom print and apply the barcode labels, and then drop ship to any location in the U.S. within 48 hours.
Was Fujifilm’s manufacturing facility impacted by COVID?
As an essential business, our manufacturing facility has remained open through the pandemic. Naturally, we took every precaution to ensure our employees remained safe, including providing masks and reorganizing the facility to accommodate for social distancing. During the peak of the pandemic last year we minimized the number of staff on-site to just the critical manufacturing employees. To achieve this we implemented working from home for as many of the administrative functions as possible. We also implemented a strict visitor policy that ensured that only visitors essential to the ongoing functioning of the manufacturing facility was permitted on-site and while on-site all visitors were required to follow the COVID restrictions,
What changed during COVID and have you kept some of the new processes you may have implemented?
As the pandemic thankfully subsided in the fall of last year we were able to relax some of the restrictions and gradually bring more people back into the facility. We still have people working from home and continue to social distance while in the facility. With the experience from last year, we are looking at our work from home policy to allow continued flexibility for our employees where possible.
What are some of the green initiatives manufacturing has initiated?
The solar panel installation project at our Bedford manufacturing facility began in response to a FUJIFILM corporate mission of energy conservation and Greenhouse gas reduction to address issues of climate change. With 1,870 solar modules, our solar installation has produced 2,977,000 kWh since its inception in November of 2013. That is the equivalent amount of energy used by 4,666 homes during an entire month. It is also the equivalent to a reduction of 1,787 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Over 20 years, this would equal the carbon sequestered by 7,280 acres of U.S. forest in one year.
In addition to our solar panels, we have just recently converted to LED lighting in our manufacturing facility. By converting to LED bulbs we will reduce our carbon footprint by approximately one-third, minimize daily maintenance work, decrease our UV emissions to zero and overall be more energy efficient. With over 3,000 bulbs replaced, we estimate a savings of 400,000 kWh this year!
Of course, tape is the greenest form of data storage available consuming 87% less energy than the equivalent hard drive storage.
What are some of the largest accomplishments manufacturing has achieved that you are particularly proud of?
Fujifilm continues to innovate the technology of LTO tape working with our OEM partners to further enhance the performance of LTO tape cartridges. As each successive generation of LTO is released, tape cartridge capacity and performance increase which naturally imposes tighter and tighter requirements on the tape, the cartridge, and all the components that go into the product. In manufacturing, we’ve been able to innovate the production processes to stay ahead of the technical challenges of manufacturing a product that operates in the realm of sub-nanometer tolerances. We’ve achieved this through a continual focus on automation and the dedication and expertise of our engineers and technical personnel.
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
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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