Not Dead Yet: Why Tape Is Still a Valuable Data Loss Prevention Technology (and a Growing Market Segment)


Tape has been around forever, at least in relation to most technologies. TechTarget says that, if you count paper tape, the technology has been around since the 18th century. But the modern era of tape still goes back more than seven decades to 1951, when UNIVAC introduced the UNIVSERVO tape drive.

So you may be surprised to hear that tape is still alive and well. And its use is expanding significantly. How much? The tape market is projected to reach $9.39 billion by 2030, a 7.5 percent CAGR. And some analysts report that up to 80 percent of mid-size and enterprise companies use tape

There are plenty of reasons for that growth. Here are just a few.

LTO-9 Delivers More Capacity, Faster Data 

The Linear Tape Open (LTO)—and LTO-9, the latest format specification for LTO Ultrium tape drive and media—has much to do with that growth. TechTarget says tape continues to set shipment records. And it notes that much of that growth can be attributed to customers looking for secure, cost-effective data backup solutions. 

With LTO-9, you can choose an 18 TB tape cartridge, yielding a 50 percent capacity increase over LTO-8 and a 1,400 percent increase over the decade-old LTO-5 technology. And LTO-9 delivers 400 MB/s native transfer speeds and 1,000 MB/s when employing 2.5:1 compression.  

LTO-9 Offers Immutable Storage, Backward Compatibility

This latest iteration of the LTO technology includes multilayer security support with hardware-based encryption.LTO-9 also supports immutable storage, a write-once-read-many times (WORM) format that unauthorized users can’t alter or delete. That means your backups are protected from ransomware, even if hackers get past your defenses.

LTO-9 offers full backward read and write compatibility with LTO generation 8 cartridges. It also provides a scalable, adaptable open tape storage format. That makes tape an attractive investment when considering primary archival and data protection solutions. 

Tape Delivers Air-Gapping and a Much Lower TCO

Ransomware attacks are now so frequent and sophisticated that it’s not a matter of if but when your company will be hit. That’s why Arcserve recommends tape as a cost-effective option for air-gapping your backups. You can learn more about physical and virtual air-gapping in this recent post.

Fujifilm offers a total cost of ownership (TCO) calculator illustrating how cost-effective tape can be. The default example shows how an organization that
- loads 20 petabytes (PB) in year one 
- projects 30 percent annual growth in stored data 
- and 12 percent of its data each year will need to be retrieved 
will save 79 percent versus disk storage and 72 percent versus cloud storage. That is some serious savings.  

Tape Is Incredibly Reliable

Ultrium LTO says that LTO-9 delivers better than one uncorrectable error event in 1020 user bits in the data reliability category. Typically referred to as uncorrectable error rate, or UBER, that translates into at least 17 nines of durability. 

UBER is a crucial data reliability metric for all data storage devices—hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), and tape. An LTO-9 analysis of user data reliability noted that “due to LTO’s unique format, which is based on orthogonal interleaved 2-dimensional 32 channel Reed Solomon error correction codes, the probability of an UBER event is orders of magnitude lower than HDD.”

Here’s another way to look at HDDs vs. tape. In the LTO-9 analysis example, the HDD would experience an UBER about every 125 terabytes or every 7 HDDs. LTO-9 technology would only experience an UBER every 12.5 zettabytes, which is 12.5 billion terabytes or almost 700 million LTO-9 cartridges. That’s a lot of storage with little risk of errors.

Powerful, Proven Tape Backup Software Closes the Deal 

Given how long tape has been around, many IT pros assume the technology hasn’t kept pace with our evolving digital environment. That isn’t so. Arcserve Backup software can greatly enhance your tape data protection strategy. Here’s how:

Centralized Data Management, Sophisticated Functionality 

Arcserve Backup offers centralized data management and storage resource manager (SRM) reporting. The software monitors the status of all backup activities, finds the nodes that are taking the longest, locates backed-up data, and tracks volume, disk, and memory usage on every production server

Arcserve Backup lets you incorporate sophisticated functionality into your VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix XenServer platforms. That includes simplified system management with a view of your entire environment to mitigate the risk of data loss on virtualized servers.

Fast, Efficient Backups and Restores

The software further increases reliability with smart restore capabilities that redirect restore jobs to other media containing the same data without manual intervention. You can also quickly restore individual application objects from Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, and Microsoft SharePoint

With Arcserve Backup, you’ll realize faster, more efficient backups and restores by leveraging UNIX and Linux data movers for SAN-based backups. You’ll also be able to meet application-specific requirements including:

• Backup to disk

• Backup to tape

• Disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T)

• Disk-to-disk-to-cloud (D2D2C)

• Virtual tape library (VTL)

• Hardware snapshot support

• Multiplexing

• Multi-streaming

Take a Closer Look at Tape

Working with an Arcserve technology partner, you can evaluate how tape fits into your backup and disaster recovery strategy. They have the expertise to guide you to the optimal solutions to meet your requirements.

Find an Arcserve technology partner here.

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