In my predictions for 2020, I highlighted that tape is not going away any time soon. It’s actually experiencing a renewal as it has become quite obvious to a whole new generation of IT professionals that it is a great medium for high-capacity and low-cost storage.
While the traditional use case of backup and recovery suffered in the past from recovery performance limitations compared to disk, other use cases have recently emerged. Large-scale archiving of course but also cold cloud storage, which is really large-scale archiving behind a cloud service interface and consumption model. Yes…tape actually powers a whole bunch of storage cloud services! Capacity, automation, and low cost make it possible.
Modern devices that integrate fast “cache” layers and the ability to leverage easy and friendly user and file system interfaces now make it a lot easier to “plug” tape into an environment without having to hire a PhD in “tapeology.” In combination with specialized high performance devices, mass producers of data can leverage high-performance (memory and disk-based) devices for production, and high-performance/large-capacity tape devices for storage. The media space is a good example.
A couple of tape vendors have recently announced initiatives and/or new products that help address parts of the gigantic ransomware issue. It should come as no surprise: Tape can easily be put off-line, air-gapping the data from the main network and the outside world—and by that I mean the nefarious actors that might corrupt the data to extort a ransom. It’s a great solution that can help improve compliance levels, and provide a “gold” copy type and isolated recovery capability. Some ransomware attacks can corrupt backups—sometimes specifically targeting the backup systems—so everyone should have an air-gapped gold copy mechanism in place. With modern devices and many integrations into the ecosystem, recovery can be accelerated (compared to the good old days) should it be necessary. I recently wrote a paper on the topic for HPE.
As I said, tape is not going away any time soon… 🙂