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Reducing Carbon Emissions through the Data Tape Ecosystem

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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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3 Reasons Why 2010 – 2020 was the Decade of Renaissance for Data Tape

Reading Time: 2 minutes

January 5, 2021

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

The past 10 years have been marked by explosive data growth and demand for storage. Meanwhile, the tape industry has experienced a renaissance thanks to significant advancements in capacity, reliability, performance, and functionality that have led to new applications and key industry adoption. Here’s a look at some of the key milestones.

Capacity

  • In terms of capacity, the decade started for LTO with LTO-5 at 1.5 TB native capacity and culminated most recently with LTO-8 at 12.0 TB and LTO-9 soon to be delivered at 18.0 TB.
  • Enterprise tape formats started the decade at 1.0 TB native and are currently at 20.0 TB native.
  • Barium Ferrite magnetic particles became a key enabler for multi-terabyte tapes and were demonstrated by IBM and Fujifilm in 2015 to have the potential to achieve 220 TB on a single tape cartridge. This signaled that tape technology had no fundamental areal density limitations for the foreseeable future.
  • By the end of the decade, IBM and Fujifilm demonstrated the ability to achieve a record areal density of 317 GBPSI using the next generation of magnetic particles, Strontium Ferrite, with a potential cartridge capacity of 580 TB.

 

Reliability and Performance

  • During the decade, tape achieved the highest reliability rating as measured by Bit Error Rate at 1 x 1019, even better than enterprise HDD at 1 x 1016.
  • Data transfer rates for tape also improved from 140 MB/sec. in 2010 to an impressive 400 MB/sec.
  • LTFS provided an open tape file system with media partitions for faster “disk-like” access and ease of interchangeability, making LTO a de facto standard in the Media & Entertainment industry.

 

New Applications and Key Industry Adoption

  • Storing objects on tape became a reality with object archive software solutions offering S3 compatibility, objects can now move to and from tape libraries in their native object format.
  • The concept of active archiving grew in popularity with tape as a key component complementing flash, HDD and cloud for cost-effectively maintaining online archives.
  • Tape was recognized for its ease of removability and portability, providing air gap protection in the escalating war against cybercrime.
  • Major U.S. hyperscalers began to rely on tape during the decade for both back-up and deep archive applications. In one well-publicized example, Google restored a February 2011 Gmail outage from its tape backups. Microsoft adopted tape for Azure later in the decade. Tape became firmly established as a competitive advantage for these and other hyper scalers based on its scalability, long archival life, lowest TCO, low energy consumption, and air gap security.

 

With this steady technological advancement over the last decade, tape has been recognized for its complementary value to flash, HDD and cloud in tiered storage strategies for managing data in the zettabyte age.

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How to Store a Zettabyte

Reading Time: < 1 minute

According to Aaron Ogus, partner development manager for Microsoft Azure Storage, storing a zettabyte of storage will be financially feasible in 2020. Data growth will always exceed expectations, and tape has a more credible road map and one that is easier to get to with not as much investment. Learn more in this video blog:

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Why is Microsoft Azure Choosing Tape?

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Listen to Marvin McNett, Principal Developer Manager from Microsoft as he explains the reasons tape is being used today in the Microsoft data center for its archival storage tier. View the video here:

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