Tape… I mean Disk…I mean cloud… Or software?

The situation of legacy tape storage technology

Brad Stropes

Every week I gain the opportunities to sit through training presentations to us by our wonderful partners and manufacturers. In each training, we hear about a shift in the marketplace, which I call the big three, “Flash, Cloud and Hyperconverged.” These three technologies are making their mark and are completely revamping the datacenter as we know it today. In addition, we hear about the death of tape and the surge to move to the cloud. However, I always have questions about the movement away from tape.

In a recent training session put on by our great partner IBM, the presenter spoke on this topic specifically.  From the perspective of our presenter, it seems that tape sales have recently increased over the last few months, which is strange since I have been told tape is dying and cloud is taking over. So then, how is this possible?

With data growth on a tremendous rise, our customers are trying to understand where each data set should reside. I believe the cloud is helping archive some of the data, but it is also increasing operational costs on a monthly basis. Because these costs are increasing overall IT spend, customers are looking for a less expensive solution for long-term retentions purpose. This leaves the door wide open for the legacy tape technology.

Although we keep hearing cloud will make tape technology obsolete, it seems that it still serves as a key solution for cold data, which is only used to meet certain SLAs. Now, I agree that tape is not a solid solution for useable data and can be a poor solution for any company wanting to utilize their data in an analytical manner. But, it may still be the perfect solution for data that may only be needed for long retention purposes.  However, this creates a tiering issue within our backup and archiving infrastructure, which increases complexity once again within our IT infrastructure. So what’s the real solution?

In my opinion, organizations need to worry less about the data targets and more about the data sets themselves. To help accomplish this, software is the key driving factor in dictating our backup solutions.  This means looking for a single product that makes it easy to move from disk, to cloud, or tape. Then an organization can leverage multiple targets from a single interface to drive down overall costs.

Some solutions such as Commvault, Veritas, EMC DPS, TSM, and VEEAM can help accomplish this on multiple different levels. The key is to find the single solution, which can help keep operational and capital costs down while decreasing complexity. This means using several scripts and inherent knowledge of backup solutions. We at CBTS run our own backup assessment programs to help our customers design the best solutions. If you have any question on such programs, please contact me at brad.stropes@cbts.net.  
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