Saving the world on tape

By Michael
May 30, 2012

A lot of people like to say that tape is dead, but those cries grow faint when digital storage media fail and those without good disaster preparedness find themselves in a data blackout. Thanks to growing “big storage” needs, magnetic tape is seeing a rise in popularity.

Sometimes online companies have problems. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak, when working in an environment with such open exposure. Safeguarding data is crucial when attacks can be both direct and indirect and may come from all sides at once. Even companies like Google, hosting their own personal online data solution Google Drive, are using backup tape storage to ensure their users’ accounts are kept safe. After an incident last year where around 1 percent of all its email accounts were deleted accidentally, the company was able to restore much of the data using backup tape resources.

Heavy storage

The volume of archive data businesses at Google’s scale have to deal with make it too cumbersome for virtual storage. DCIG took a look at some of the leading backup tape solutions and found that it still runs cleaner, faster and cheaper to scale than other methods of mass storage and highlighted some of the more efficient solutions available today, focusing on redundancy and capacity.

“Enterprises need cost-effective storage solutions capable of meeting both Big Data and Cloud computing requirements,” said Molly Rector of Spectra Logic, commenting on the flexibility of backup tape in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “Tape is the preferred solution…with comprehensive support for both traditional and the latest features that users want.”

Bigger boxes

“The fact of the matter is many organizations, both large and small, use tape libraries as either their primary or secondary target backup,” said Jerome Wendt of DCIG, pointing to the future of tape as a ‘Big Data’ solution for large companies.

Tape will never be quite as fast as the cloud but it outpaces it in terms of how much it can reliably hold. Cloud storage is nebulous; as to where it’s actually located in digital space is questionable, making eDiscovery and legality particularly sticky and security trickier. Reliable mass storage solutions like tape management software sort information into individual tapes and a controlled environment that the cloud can’t match. Manufacturers are also working toward bigger solutions all the time, increasing rack capacities while shrinking the physical footprint of individual units.

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