The future of backup tape is smaller

By Michael
November 17, 2012

The last 60 years have seen backup tape management slowly slide to the bottom of enterprise-level storage solutions. Where once these tools were the only method considered for housing information, now tapes are usually seen in an archival or cold storage capacity, with static data the main articles on file. This makes for secure remote storage solutions in case of disasters, as well as sound compliance and audit precautions, but there are ways of making these resources more useful.

Instead of sequestering backup tape archives into a third-party location or shuffling older data into its confines, manufacturers are building smaller, faster devices in an attempt to put tape management and file tracking back into everyday use.

The size of tape
In the beginning, tape drives were prodigious in scale, taking up entire rooms in companies of all sizes. Later, these devices became faster and smaller, but the practice of dedicating warehouses for storage and maintenance purpose has not changed. To try and tame this sprawl, businesses are building smaller and smarter devices.

Recent changes in both tape and disk drives show these tools are smaller than ever before, XBit Labs wrote. Some companies have already designed disks with a terabyte of compressed space and 32GB of flash media, making them run faster and deeper than any of their predecessors. Reuters reported that other businesses were building tape drives less than 10 centimeters across and one-fifth as high, with over 30 times as much capacity as the new disk solutions.

New role for tape
Instead of simply changing the structure of these tools, such revelations will also affect the way in which these devices are deployed in a business setting. Companies trying to cut costs in day-to-day operations, as well as maintain more compliant systems, understand that this is a critical shift and one that has come just in time.

Reuters commented that many have been deterred from tape due to its slow access speed, requiring tape tracking management and special reading devices to bring up old files, which adds to the latency of these tools. On the other hand, attacks from Anonymous and Lulzsec on major corporations, as well as rogue breaches throughout the corporate world, showcase the need for more secure options.

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