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Tape future looks magnificent!

January 9, 2014

For all those who thought tape was dead and extinct like a dinosaur, this post might help in brushing up your knowledge. The year 2013 turned out in favor of tape, as this storage media became a critical component in data center operations. The credit goes to the increased importance of economics and popularization of three tape technologies.

Although, many feel that tape media vendors are almost out of business, in reality, it is not. Infact, tape media became an integral part of storage infrastructure in 2013 and proved its extinction as vastly over-rated. Most organizations have continued and are continuing to count tape as an effective storage mechanism for backups and archives. Though many in the storage industry opinioned that disk was an apt replacement to tape, it did not prove as said in reality on a complete note.

The highlighting factor of the year 2013 was the return of tape into tier 2 and midmarket data centers. The main cause for this trend was growth of data at an alarming rate with influencing factors like internet of things, smart phones, tablets and IP based security surveillance cameras usage. With all these things generating data at a fast pace, the need for an inexpensive storage media started to arise. No matter who agrees to it or not, Tape is still the leader in this issue as it still works out as an economic storage solution in terms of cost/GB and power efficiency basis.

All these days, one of the main challenges which was faced by tape was lack of data storage standards. Though, LTO remained as ubiquitous, the format into which the data was written to LTO was not. As a result, each backup and archive application had its own tape format in place and thus made its users dependent on the application for life.

In the 2013, LTFS (Linear tape file system) adoption picked up its pace on a considerable note, as it allowed its users to read directly from the operating system. Slowly, LTFS started to work with built-in operating systems drivers which could read and write directly from the OS. Therefore, due to this flexibility, numerous archive applications and a few backup apps supported the format by the end of 2013.

Network attached storage tape technology augmented to fame in 2013. Though, it was not a new technology, it gained much prominence in previous year. Through this technology, tape was allowed to be accessed via a network file system or common internet file sharing mount point. Usually, these two gateways were used mainly in disk storage, but their emergence into tape technology increased its adoption rate among the enterprises.

The other technology which highlighted tape in 2013 was the introduction of RESTful interface offered by Spectra Logic. In the past, if the user wanted to interface their app with a tape library, they had to go through the processing of complex SCSI commands or go through some sort of gateway. But with the emergence of RESTful interface, data can be written directly to tape from the application via the RESTful API interface and this has become almost a standard in the cloud services providing data centers.

Thus, the year 2013 proved as a good year for tape media as it allowed this media to be more transportable and easier to access. Since, the data growth in 2014 shows no signs of levying off; it could be more promising for tape technology manufacturers on longer front.

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