Tape Can be Fast and Responsive, but You Must Manage It Well

By Michael
November 24, 2015

Offsite data storage is essential for many backup and recovery strategies. Whether you are talking about archiving information and are concerned about being able to recover it if it becomes needed in the future or maintaining backups so you can ensure smooth operations after a disaster event, tape can offer advantages. In particular, tape has the potential to be an extremely responsive backup media under the right circumstances, especially if you are managing your tape assets well.

Understanding why tape can be a responsive tool
The network is the ultimate bottleneck in handling backup and recovery processes. In plenty of cases, businesses that backup, for example, on a weekly basis, can have systems spending hours, or even days, on the weekend automatically sending data to the backup site. Even with daily backups, you can lose a few hours in the evening moving all of the data to an external site. The issue here is simple – networks can only move so much data at a time, and you need to pay heavily if you want to build out the kind of infrastructure to support rapid backup and recovery data transmissions. Furthermore, upgrading your infrastructure is only one part of the issue: You must also consider your links to external data centers and the money that goes into maintaining, and possibly expanding, those services.

The reality for most businesses is that the network will be a bottleneck unless you put huge fiscal resources into it. That is rarely an option, especially as backup and recovery strategies only deliver value in the event of a disaster, not on an everyday basis. Because of this, moving months’ worth of data from a backup site to your office after a disaster event can take days, something your business may not be able to tolerate.

Having the network bog down your data recovery process can be even more problematic if any of the cabling links between your facility and the external location are damaged during a disaster, adding to the time it takes for you to recover data. Tape, on the other hand, uses an interface that makes it extremely easy to get data from and can be transported easily between locations in an automobile. The ability to physically move tape drives between locations and get them to your site can streamline recovery when circumstances are dire, but you need to manage tape well if you are going to take advantage of these potential responsiveness gains.

Managing tape to ensure a smooth response during a disaster
Solutions like VaultLedger provide backup tape management features that you need if you hope to maximize response times and ensure a stable and secure tape strategy. These types of solutions can apply the principles of serialization to your tapes, giving you the ability to identify each tape based on its serial number. From there, management solutions will store records of where specific tapes are stored at any time, letting you view their historic data and track down specific tapes that you can’t find. All of these factors come together to make it easier to deal with physical transit of tape between multiple locations as you don’t have to worry about any items slipping through the cracks.

All of these capabilities also add up to create an indisputable audit trail. Chances are that if you’re backing up significant amounts of data at a remote site, it is because you are facing some severe regulatory standards that mandate you handle data in such a way that you are following best practices at all times. Living up to regulatory guidelines while moving tape between multiple locations can be incredibly difficult, as you must show auditors that you are properly protecting and controlling data.

Backup tape management solutions position organizations to create responsive, streamlined data recovery processes around tape archives without risking any form of regulatory breach. Furthermore, advanced solutions do so without giving your employees too great of a clerical burden. They can scan barcodes to document the location of tapes and the management system automatically registers and logs its location. All told, you can accelerate recovery processes and do so without incurring unnecessary risk.

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