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Spectra Logic, Geyser Data launch tape as a service

Spectra Logic and Geyser Data are partnering to provide an as-a-service offering for tape, which gives customers access to tape storage in the cloud.

Spectra Logic, a data management and storage company that largely utilizes magnetic tape, is introducing the industry's first cloud-based tape-as-a-service offering, providing customers with another option for storing archival data.

Spectra Logic is partnering with Geyser Data, a cloud archive provider, to offer Tape Archive Platform As-a-Service (Tapas). The service is built on the Spectra Cube tape library, certified LTO-9 tape cartridges and the Spectra BlackPearl S3-compatible object storage, along with Geyser Data's tape-as-a-service software. The new service provides customers an as-a-service option for tape storage, removing libraries and the need for tape expertise on premises.

Spectra introduced its Cube tape library just last month. It uses LumOS library management software and can hold up to 30 TB of raw data. It launched capable of integrating with BlackPearl file and object storage to provide on-premises or hybrid cloud backup and archive capabilities. Now, with Geyser's as-a-service software, users have access to a tape storage option without having to invest in the hardware, according to Spectra.

This is the first cloud to be offered as a pure tape pay-as-you-go option, according to Simon Robinson, an analyst at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group. Magnetic tape is looked at as almost anachronistic in IT; it used to be more common, but is now relegated to function as an archive rather than as a contributor to the production environment.

While this may not trigger a resurgence of tape in primary environments, it may change the way organizations are thinking about using the media.
Simon RobinsonAnalyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

"While this may not trigger a resurgence of tape in primary environments, it may change the way organizations are thinking about using the media," he said.

Lower price per terabyte, retrieval times

Tapas sets itself apart in lower costs and faster retrieval times compared with a cloud-based, cold archive service such as Amazon Glacier, according to Spectra.

The new service has no retrieval or egress fees and will be available June 1. Pricing is based on a per-tape basis and will be about $1.50 per terabyte, per month, according to the company. Spectra can ship full physical tapes to customers at an additional cost.

Tapas might be seen as a competitor to Amazon Glacier or Azure Archive, Microsoft's low-cost cloud archive storage, on a cost-per-terabyte level. But Glacier might be cheaper for bulk storage, with some plans going for as little as $0.001 per gigabyte, according to Mitch Lewis, an analyst at Futurum Group.

"Customers could save money overall by not having egress fees," he said.

This is more likely a way for Spectra to expand its tape business to now go into the cloud as well, Lewis said.

Unlike Amazon Glacier, retrieval from Tapas storage is free. Glacier's costs vary depending on speed of retrieval and storage class used. Glacier customers can select one of three classes: instant, where data is retrieved in milliseconds; flexible, where data is retrieved in minutes to up to 12 hours; and deep archive, where data is retrieved between 12 to 24 hours, according to Amazon.

With Tapas, retrieval times are based on a customer's selected storage policies and can range from milliseconds to minutes, according to Spectra.

Fees can be an area where cloud service providers can differentiate themselves, Robinson said. Ingress, egress and access fees mean users won't want to access their data as freely.

"This [lack of fees] encourages users to actually interact with the data and use the service," he said, adding that this could make data stored on tape even more valuable to customers.

Greener, more secure

Tapes consume nearly 87% less power and generate 97% less carbon dioxide compared with spinning disks, according to Spectra. The long durability of tapes -- up to 30 years -- also means that less e-waste is generated compared with other cloud-based storage media, which need to refresh their drives more often.

Tapas uses LTO cartridges that are physically air-gapped to reduce the chances of ransomware. Users retain data encryption keys and establish access permissions for the tapes where they are stored. Location, or data residency, is also determined by the users.

The benefits of tape would extend to the cloud with an added benefit of no longer needing on-premises experts to manage and maintain the storage, Robinson said.

"Geyser Data puts its interface on the library that allows you to get your data in and out," he said.

While using tape as the storage medium in a cloud will always be greener than HDDs, it might raise security questions, Lewis said. Tape is an attractive storage option because it's disconnected from the network, typically kept on premises and controlled by the customer, making it secure.

"Giving the tape to someone else, you lose a piece of that control," he said.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at

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