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Thinking about LTO-8 Tape? 

We caught up with IBM Storage executives to get the thoughts on the release of LTO-8 and tape storage in general.

LTO-8 Video Transcript.

With data growth rates now measuring in the tens of zettabytes annually it comes as no surprise that IBM's announcements around tape storage have the industry buzzing. We traveled to the IBM executive briefing Center in Tucson Arizona to get information about IBM's new LTO 8 technology firsthand. A few years ago we celebrated 60 years of tape and 59 years of tape is dead and so yeah tape is very uniquely positioned for really kind of I'll say two key aspects one is the extremely high capacity it stays on that areal density curve and stays ahead of disk and and while there may be occasional variations of coming closer together and opening up differences tape has maintained that for many many years the cost-effectiveness you know goes across industries everybody needs to save money everybody needs to deal with storing in a cost-effective manner and and then kind of a side to highlight of cost-effectiveness. There's a lot of parameters and TCO including density and so tape densities you know exceed all other storage densities and as we maintain those areal density improvements I started out 31 years ago with IBM as a developer for DF HSM on the mainframe and its sole function was to move hot data once it cools off from disk to move it on to tea and 80 90 percent of mainframe customers their data is cold on tape being kept for long-term purposes for a variety of legitimate reasons leaving the disc and flash for the hot data that needs all of that performance at its optimum now on other distributed system such as UNIX and Windows and Linux we're finding the same dynamic applies just 20 years later people are finding that they're keeping data longer for analytics they're keeping data longer for government compliance they're keeping it for active archives so that they can reference back to the information and this stuff is cool it's not accessed on a daily basis so yes you still have 80 to 90 percent of your data is called with the hot edge the data that is the most recent the most active data still on flash and disk if you've been around for a long time it's like remember the chrome tape which was the good stuff that you flick the switch in your tape deck to have the good good performance all technologies have evolutions like this chromed mp2 barium ferrite what comes next strontium ferrite I've heard other things in the press people have talked about I think the sputtered is just another example of the technology that's potentially yet to be put into tape I like to point at those as we have roadmap insurance we're not sitting there bumping our heads against some technology law of physics like hard disks cos we have a lot of options going forward and whether it's food you and strontium or soneul and sputtered or something else that we haven't yet heard about there's something that we can use to keep pushing the value prop the tape forward eric Hertzog chief marketing officer and vice president with IBM storage division his fond of comparing the storage infrastructure model of the company to a Pittsburgh stake hot edge cold center to get a bit more detail about what it hurts augment if we turn to IBM's thought leaders at the executive briefing Center in Tucson Arizona what's interesting about Herzog's example is I always think to myself ok what are the sides and the sides better complement what we intend to deliver associate with Software Defined an example of that is what we do is special mark I've LTFS that enables this idea of consume ability with regards to file sets and the data that you want to ensure simplicity on it's basically like a USB for tape the primary workload today for tape is archived for backup 70% of backups are still on tape 30% are either on cloud or disk based approaches virtual tape libraries or disk repositories for storing up backups or even you know USB thumb drives or or USB external drives as a way to do backups so it's still a huge role for backups to use tape but the real advantage is long-term retention if you look at the costs over say seven to ten years you would have to swap out your disk two or three times during the same time you have one tape generation with one tape library and tape cartridge technology during that same period so you would have more stability if you will on the tape environment than having to do it on a disk that gets changed a lot whether you're talking about IBM zenterprise tape format Jaguar or the linear tape open LTO format tape is coming into greater use even by clouds which were once touted as a tape killer platform tape is a very important to cloud providers I think they're providing some of our best not only our best testimonials of the benefits of tape but it's kind of exciting times for us in terms of driving new requirements driving new needs for innovation for us as developers we that's the kind of thing we thrive on that's coming from the cloud providers and then what we see is the kind of a tip of the spear others other those of our customers saying yeah I want that even if you're you're putting that disc on to cloud storage with fast access characteristics that's also being backed up somewhere in the cloud and and there are going to be some high percentage of them that are that are utilizing tape for that reason we partner with cloud service providers that they come in with their their mountain bikes and camel packs in order to substantiate their the provide for different thinking usually deeper thinking with regards to what's required for LTO or potentially Jack our partners in the cloud services area are both enterprise as well as entry to mid-range based on their particular use cases associate with a the environment that they intend to run some of the technology end so so cloud service provider we feel like there's a vertical now that is clear and we IBM wannabe part of that infrastructure some pundits and trade press writers have recently called into question the efficacy of tape when used together with so-called active archives they wonder whether or not data can be retrieved from a tape fast enough to make it useful for applications such as big data ibn gave us their view some analytics is crunching data that is within the same 24 hour period however there's other data that you are looking for long term trends long term analysis and the process of analytics is terribly slow to begin with it's mathematical models that take hours or days to do and the time to fetch the data from tape is the least of the problems it really isn't affecting the maskull models it fetches data it processes the data if then fetches more data and processes the data and then the time that it's taking to process the data it has to do all of the math it has to do a variety of cross correlations to look for those patterns and develop these models again the time to fetch the data from tapirs is not the major bottleneck we have a project at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC they record all of their TV shows awards ceremonies things of that nature and they have most of the data on tape with maybe the first three minutes on flesh so when you hit the play button you're playing the first three minutes from flash and that gives us plenty of time to fetch the tape and position it which on average is 75 seconds total from the time you actually start the robotics to the time you position that 40 milliseconds to actually go from the front of the tape to the middle of the tape is is is too small to even consider in that space but doesn't matter it's it's ready to go people are familiar with buffering on Netflix or whatever when they're watching and it's basically fetching from tape you tube you watch another video for advertising while it's buffering from tape and then you watch the actual video you're looking at and nobody seems to have a problem with that in fact it can be monetized I like a set tape that big 20 to 25 times cheaper than discs really you can compensate for a lot with that difference in price in addition to capacity durability and cost efficiency another reason for the renewed interest in tape may very well be data security at the end of the day IT budgets aren't going up but data storage requests and demand is going up so you have to figure out how to solve that problem and you can't do it all online and I do think your point about the recent hackathons and things like that that are exposing weaknesses on online data is going to drive some demand into tape for that air-gap reason I mean Google's lost years ago wasn't a wasn't a hack it was a software bug as I understand it but it illustrates the same point as they had to have that air gap to have that disease or whatever you want to call it not propagate through everything and yeah I think some of the large cloud guys are actually looking at it for that reason too is how do I create an air gap that I don't have to worry about getting infections running across my whole environment the air gap is very sensitive right now because of breaches and ran somewhere where they hack into a system and are able to encrypt your data and then hold you ransom with having to pay to get your data back and having that air gap means that you have some data protection preventing that modification and encryption that could easily be unnoticed otherwise the encryption is certainly a critical factor we had a state government agency I won't tell you which state in the United States but their model of disaster recovery was to give the most recently new hired employee a box of cartridges to store in the back trunk of his car so that it would be stored in his apartment in that in the garage of his apartment and then the next day and they used that methodology for a while until somebody had their car stolen so encryption became very important in the tape world in these breaches that were finding only 4% is encrypted 96% of the world's data is unencrypted and for a long time that was because it impacted the performance impacted the database performance it impacted online transaction processing but in a tape environment its real-time the encryption happens at line speed there is no trade-off with encryption you get the encryption immediately and everyone encrypts their tapes there isn't anyone who isn't encrypting their tapes and the cost is managing keys and so we have a security key lifecycle manager that basically keeps track of the keys and doles them out to the tapes when needed and it's all done over a secure connection so that unless you have access to those keys you can't make any inference of the data on the tape we were the first from a technology perspective to deliver tape encrypting drives in addition we work with partners based on the software side or even in mainframe to enable this idea of pervasive encryption so tape is highly secure and we intend to improve our overall security as we learn more because we have to substantiate a highly secure environment for some of the most at risk clients we have in the marketplace even with the many improvements in tape technology that we've seen over the past two decades there are still those who are concerned that a skills gap is going to inhibit the adoption of tape technology going forward it's important that we ensure that we scream from the rooftops about tape and how we enable consume ability within certain workloads like for instance virtualization so in partnership with VMware were more now thinking about how to is - what we do with the 4500 or the tape library line and grow from a stackable 3u and beyond be careful people of our age group have a tape experience and a lot of it is ejecting the VCR and pulling out the 3-inch threads of tape inside and trying to get the rest of it out of there right so there is this kind of consumer tape problem for our generation of all the hassles with tape getting pulled apart the newbie generation actually it's probably going to be much more accepting of tape once they start using it because they don't have that kind of consumer based experience all they have is the IT based experience which of course as you know is night and day different than a consumer tape experience it's kind of like considered you know comparing you know consumer flash to a large mainframe sort of flash much difference in performance much difference in reliability so I'm actually we're looking at one of the things we're trying to do in IBM is is kind of promote tape to be more usable we're our research in Zurich is working on something we call open LTFS which is essentially a think of it as a spectrum archive non-clustered that we would like to make open sourced we are putting a swift stack on top of that HLM Swiss stack which is basically a latency tier so that you can have optical made or tape in an object store part of the idea is now that becomes something that can be consumable in universities and other places very simply you don't have to have it at a pad and somebody go get a special software you know backup application to use tape now you can download the open-source Swift stack you can use the open source open LTFS and you can have a small tape presence in a small lab without a huge cost in the complexity so that's part of this idea of we need to make tape relevant again from the ground up almost we have wrapped tape with tape libraries and automation to the point where it's yet another black box that you point data act and with all most of that automation rarely do you have to physically touch a tape cartridge physically mount the tape cartridge or physically put a tape cartridge in a box and ship it off somewhere depending on your business a lot of median entertainment that used to be familiar with Betamax and VHS videotape have easily switched over to LTO tape as an alternative that stores hundreds of hours of high-definition video on a single cartridge that is no change for them and companies that use tapes to pass information from supplier to supplier credit card information things like that again not anything new to them this is something they've been doing for a while I don't see really any unique skills that couldn't be learned in a few days or a few weeks regarding tape there's the proper handling of tape though don't pour coffee on it don't run over the cartridge with the truck but other than that I don't really see a skills shortage that needs to be addressed over a longer period of time it may seem like IBM is ahead of the curve with its announcement of LTO eight drives and libraries especially given the fact that only yesterday we were being told about their generation 7 tape technology is there a reason why LTO 8 announcements are coming so far ahead of the cartridge itself we're now seeing the I guess you could say the availability of LTO 8 technology which is the announcement of the LTO 8 Drive and when we expect it to be ready for market we're not announcing everything like when the media is available because the t pcs haven't worked through all the licensing and agreements and all that so technically we can't really go forward with everything but we are ready with the technology and the drive so we're going to be talking about that we decided it was important for us to run to the races deliver an LTO 8 Drive even though we've just recently of course delivered LTO 7 to substantiate our commitment as ecosystem partners to the marketplace as it relates to tape actually LTO 8 is back to our historical pace an LTO we used to be around two years maybe two and a quarter or something like that then in the timeframe of the big financial crash in LTO 6 we kind of spaced it out with more like three years or so now we're back to the two year pace I mean we're back to a technology that scales we have the capability so we generally believe the market needs more tape and needs more capacity and if we can do it we'll do it with today's announcement of a new LTO eight tape drive IBM is demonstrating its continued support for the LTO tape roadmap.

To learn more about LTO-8 Tape Technology contact your BackupWorks Accout rep today at 866 801 2944

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