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ESG Report - LTO for the Next Generation Data Center

The Bigger Truth

Contrary to any misconception that tape is unreliable, slow, and simply overlooked as a modern storage technology, ESG is pleased to report that LTO tape is thriving and has a bright future in organizations of all sizes, including some of the largest public cloud providers on the planet. An ESG Lab audit of LTO consortium reliability testing has confirmed that LTO-7 media and drives are orders of magnitude more reliable than enterprise-class disk drives. As a matter of fact, it's more than a billion times more likely that you will get hit by lightning in your lifetime than that you will encounter an unrecoverable LTO-7 media error.

Also, ESG's annual IT spending intentions research survey indicates that the top three considerations reported by respondents for justifying IT spending in 2015 were security/risk management, cost reduction, and data analytics initiatives that allow business teams to extract incremental value out of their existing information repositories. With these considerations in mind, it's clear to ESG that modern tape with industry-standard LTO can play a key role as organizations transform their IT architectures based on economics and agility. LTO tape continues to play a key role in enterprises as it reduces risk for the organization with field-proven backup/recovery and archive technology that's more cost-effective and reliable than disk. Recent advances in the evolution of tape technology (e.g., the industry-standard LTFS and partitioning support that's built into LTO) are enabling a new wave of tape modernization and online active archive solutions that can drastically reduce the cost and complexity of big data initiatives, including creating higher margins for both its on-premises and cloud storage providers.

ESESG Lab has confirmed that LTO technology can be used to meet the performance needs of the most demanding streaming workloads (e.g., real-time geospatial data archiving and high-definition video production) with native, uncompressed, single tape drive LTO-7 performance of up to 300 MB/sec and the ability to get tens, or even hundreds, of tape drives working in parallel in one or more enterprise-class tape libraries.

While ESG confirmed the reliability of LTO media and drives, it’s not just the media and the drives that ensure data reliability. Human factors and software errors are the primary risk factors that can lead to data loss with tape or any other technology. Following time-tested industry best practices for system diagnostics, data protection and retention, and tape media handling and storage reduces that risk.

While ESG believes that the reliability and the tape modernization analysis presented in this report are vital considerations when making a long-term data retention technology decision, the bottom line for most IT professionals is simple economics. After all, if economics weren’t an issue, most organizations would store all of their application data forever on disk or in the cloud! Nothing is more cost-effective, reliable, and energy-efficient for long-term data retention than a tape in a library slot or on a shelf, and it continues to play a key role for organizations across the globe. Isn’t it about time we embrace the renaissance of tape and leverage the innovations that make it ever more useful?

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