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Vendors Predictions for 2021

Storage Companies share views and opinions for this year

Before you read in details the following players inputs, we try to summarize key patterns we detect among all these information:

  • global data management especially for unstructured data with tiering, DR and globally smart policies,
  • no surprise with the edge, hybrid and multi-cloud globally,
  • container-based storage with Kubernetes fueled by DevOps needs,
  • security aspect with ransomware protection, encryption, air gap and tape,
  • cloud storage and services then
  • object storage, S3 and storage APIs,
  • SaaS backup and archive, and
  • of course AI/ML, GPU, analytics


The past decade saw the renaissance of data tape technology with dramatic improvements to capacity, reliability, performance, and TCO giving rise to new industry adoptions and functionality. This trend will only continue in 2021 as data storage and archival needs in the post-Covid digital economy demand exactly what tape has to offer. Below are 5 key contributions tape will make to the storage industry in 2021.

  • Containing the growing cost of storage
    One lingering effect of the pandemic will be the need for more cost containment in already budget-strapped IT operations. We are well into the “zettabyte age”, and storing more data with tighter budgets will be more important than ever. Businesses will need to take an intelligent and datacentric approach to storage to make sure the right data is in the right place at the right time. This will mean storage optimization and tiering where high capacity, low cost tape plays a critical role – especially in active archive environments.
  • Best practice in fighting ransomware
    One of many negative side effects of Covid has been the increasing activity of ransomware attacks, not only in the healthcare industry which is most vulnerable at this time, but across many industries, everywhere. Backup and DR vendors are no doubt adding sophisticated new anti-ransomware features to their software that can help mitigate the impact and expedite recovery. But as a last line of defense, removable tape media will increasingly provide air-gap protection in 2021, just in case the bad actors are one step ahead of the good guys.
  • Compatibility with object storage
    Object storage is rapidly growing thanks to its S3 compatibility, scalability, relatively low cost and ease of search and access. But even object storage content eventually goes cold, so why keep that content on more expensive, energy intensive HDD systems? This is where tape will play an increasing role in 2021, freeing up capacity on object storage systems by moving that content to a less expensive tape tier all while maintaining the native object format on tape.
  • Low-energy tool for countering climate change
    Prior to Covid-19, climate change was a big issue. But like many issues, it was placed on the back burner during the pandemic. In the wake of recent natural disasters including record storm activity and wildfires, look for climate change to regain focus in 2021. Enterprises worldwide have initiatives in place to address global warming and IT operations are not excluded. Data centers consume a significant amount of energy and have been noted to contribute as much CO2 as the airline industry. Storage is a major consumer of energy within data center operations, and this where tape systems have a big advantage over HDD. Data tapes don’t consume energy unless actively being used in a tape drive, unlike 24/7 spinning disks. According to a recent whitepaper from Brad Johns Consulting, tape consumes 87% less energy than disk and produces 87% less CO2 than the equivalent amount of disk storage. Look for tape to take on more of the load for infrequently accessed data with the benefit of cutting energy consumption and cost.
  • Affordable storage for video surveillance
    The video surveillance market is exploding. While the prices for cameras come down, and resolutions soar into 4k and 8k, the cost of content retention will be almost cost prohibitive without a new breakthrough solution. LTO can save video surveillance operators 50% on their cost of content retention compared to expensive disk-only systems. But while LTO has become a de facto standard in the M&E industry, its ease-of-use was a historical hurdle for surveillance operators. Management software companies like Cozaint have come to the rescue, seamlessly integrating a tape tier, behind disk, to allow the luxury of longer retention periods previously not feasible due to cost constraints. Look for LTO tape to play another starring video role (beyond Hollywood) in 2021!


Active archive growth will be IT lever to invest in DevOps
2020 changed the focus of IT shops across the spectrum, but digital data never stopped growing. Only 33% of IT budgets shrunk as a result of the 2020 challenges, most budgets aligned spending to mobile access and security enhancements. While some infrastructure changes are on hold, storage requirements continue to grow. Active archives are the most efficient method of reducing cost of infrastructure without recognizing penalties. The growth created in cloud storage during the pandemic will lead to an increased spend on active archives by hyperscale and hyperscale-lite storage providers. At the same time, traditional data centers will continue to expand active archives as the only method to meet budgets while improving operational
efficiency on production systems


Understanding data and improving storage management
Organizations will seek to better understand their data by adopting data management. There will be a big push to make data insights actionable and to leverage these insights to improve storage management, whether on premises or in the cloud.

Bridging compute and storage for analytics
Enterprises will seek new ways to bridge compute and storage where analytics run over the network or at the edge. Data will need to become mobile without affecting timeliness.

Easy-to-use interfaces
Ease of use will continue to be a priority, with improved interfaces on devices.

Enterprises will need to be able to manage their systems remotely, without complex professional services engagements.

Spectra Logic

2021 will bring a shift towards data storage planning for the long-term
The pandemic is causing self-reflection in the data industry. IT professionals are asking themselves these questions: How well is my data protected? How easily can I monetize archived data? How effortlessly can my data be accessed? What is a good 20-year plan for my data retention systems? The latter of these questions continues to force organizations to take a long-term look at their architecture and at the systems that will grow, adapt and enable them to achieve goals in the future by investing in modern and flexible solutions today.

Greater realization of the long-term economic value of tape
We are seeing a trend with data centers where organizations are consolidating and deploying larger tape libraries in one or two locations. They then share that data (because of the improved bandwidth), with data management software overlaying it, making an on-premise set up simpler and easier. After the initial investment in the tape library, that cost dissolves and then it is just about the cost of physical tape media. Scalable, smaller tape libraries that enable users to increase capacity incrementally as their data repositories grow will continue to be deployed in midsize tape environments for economical long-term data retention as well as for air-gap protection against malware. In 2021 many organizations will realize this scenario proves to be more economical long-term than year-on-year costs to get data back with a pure cloud-only strategy. With the LTO roadmap extending out to LTO-12 and 144TB of capacity per tape, and new demonstrations by IBM and FujiFilm of future tape capacities achieving 580TB per-tape using barium ferrite technology, data-hungry organizations will continue to depend on tape for its superior reliability, affordability and scalability for years to come.

Increasing control of data and ability to move between clouds
Organizations will recognize the importance of being discerning when it comes to committing to one cloud option (where prices can be raised after time or data can only be retrieved at great cost) and shutting down their data centers completely. Instead, organizations will embrace greater independence and cost savings from cloud lock-in with a local copy kept on-premise and one in the cloud for disaster recovery or cloud-specific workflows and compute. In 2021 more organizations will recognize the importance of the freedom to choose where to put their data without compromise, the benefits of controlling their own data, and the ability to move between clouds. 2021 marks the start of commoditization of cloud storage and compute.


Increasing adoption of active archives based on tape libraries
It is hard to beat the cost per terabyte of data tape libraries for organizations that have large active archives, whether those organizations are public cloud providers or users with large volumes of data. This is due to the low cost per terabyte of the cartridges themselves and low system power requirements. It means that tape storage is often an important element, alongside disk and management software, in high-capacity active archive systems.

Many public cloud providers have introduced object storage with very low-cost archive tiers that take perhaps an hour or more to restore a file. Often these providers use data tape as part of the storage mix. We anticipate rapid growth in the use of low-cost archive tier cloud storage. However, many potential users of cloud archive tiers are put off by the very high cost of egress fees, not just for routine restores, but the potentially massive cost if they ever want to move their content to another provider.

On-premises tape-based active archives are typically not subject to egress fees and we will continue to see growing demand for this class of storage. On-premises archive solutions that offer an S3 interface, allowing the archive to be securely shared by remote users and other facilities, will be especially attractive.


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