2021 data health check report: tapes are old and strong, and it’s too early to retire
Since the millennium, the industry has been advocating “tape is dead.” LiveVault, one of the early pioneers of online backup, declared in 2003 that “tape backup is a thing of the last century.”Considering that few companies turned to backup solutions based entirely on hard drives at that time, this statement was quite bold.However, in the short span of 20 years, where did the tape retirement go?
In 2008,DatabarracksStarted to track and investigate backup methods in the “Data Health Check” report.
It turned out that at that time 42% of organizations were still using tape for backup. In contrast, only 23% of organizations use hard drive-based cloud/online backup.
Fast forward to 2021, the latest “Data Health Check” report still recorded a 4% share of tape backup. At the same time, the utilization rate of cloud/online backup has grown to 51%.
What’s interesting is that 15% of organizations are still using a “hard disk + tape” hybrid backup solution-this means that we are still a long way from “completely giving away” tape backup.
As for this matter for being so difficult,TechRadarPeter Groucutt believes that it can be attributed to multiple aspects.First of all, organizations need to keep many years of historical backup, and the transformation of large enterprises is even more difficult and slow.
In contrast, smaller companies need to retain less backup data, so it is easier to break the routine and use new methods. Before the old system is completely shut down, the two systems can be kept running smoothly and in parallel.
The embarrassing thing is that although large-scale organizations do not need to frequently react to the backup data in the old disk, the compliance requirements force them to maintain the existing plan (the “two-step” is costly and labor-intensive), otherwise it will face the regulatory agencies. Huge penalties.
Secondly, the cost of tape is actually quite a bargain.Even if we have entered the “cloud service era”, the high cost of hard drives and bandwidth still persuades many people. When several petabytes of data need to be moved at every turn, the cost difference between hard drives and tapes will be further magnified.
And don’t look at the tape drive as “old-fashioned”, it not only has a high storage density, but the continuous data transmission performance of the tape is also quite “low-key” in specific applications that do not require high random I/O.
Third, by completely separating cold backup from the production environment, tape backup also has the feature of physical isolation between systems (offline).
Of course, some people may feel that the risk of relying on “degradable magnetic storage media” is a bit high. But on the other hand, the most important reason for upgrading to modern storage solutions is actually automation and reliability.
Taking into account that tape backup is a rather labor-intensive process, the work of loading and archiving can be partially completed by the tape library equipment, but this method still has many shortcomings and cannot solve the problem from the root cause.
During the past year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of allowing the system to “continue to work without personal operation by on-site personnel” has been highlighted.
Fortunately, many organizations that have long delayed tape retirement plans are actively making changes. But… Does tape really fade out of the backup industry anytime soon?
The LTO Program Technology Supplier Company (TPC) reported that-excluding the impact of manufacturing suspension in 2018, its total shipments in 2020 have ushered in the first decline.
But even so, the technological iteration of tape is still advancing steadily. For example, the latest LTO-9 format provides up to 18TB of native capacity (and 45TB of compressed capacity).
In addition, it can be seen from the roadmap that LTO has planned a 12-generation product with 114TB native capacity / 360TB compressed capacity. Based on this, we expect that tape will continue to be the preferred option for low-cost backup for some time to come.