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Ninth Generation Cyber Resilient Tape Storage for your hybrid cloud

IBM LTO Ultrium Gen 9 tape technologies bring a new level of storage cost-efficiency and modern data protection to 21st century business.

Two of the most powerful forces driving Information Technology (IT) today are the explosion of data volumes and the escalation of cyber security threats. Perhaps the fact that tape-based data storage solutions and technology have remained relevant and robust across the marketplace can be explained by how well tape addresses both of these critical issues.

LTO tape remains a leading solution in addressing modern data storage needs supremely effective at helping enterprises of all types and sizes address their need for cost- efficient, high-volume data storage. And tape offers some of the best ways to mitigate and even thwart cyber threats. Perhaps just as important, innovation within the basic tape-based data storage platform has remained strong. IBM has never lost sight of the value and the promise of tape-based storage. Our on-going commitment to the venerable technology and the ever-expanding storage solutions it continues to provide has recently been reaffirmed with the release of new Linear Tape Open (LTO) Ultrium Generation 9 technologies and offerings. The new IBM LTO 9 drives and supporting systems increase tape’s ability to provide cost-effective, secure storage solutions to meet the full range of rapidly evolving 21st century long term data storage requirements.


  • Store up to 1EB per 18-frame library with 2.5:1 compression
  • Achieve 18TB capacity per cartridge, 50% better than LTO 8
  • Execute faster restores with 400MB/s transfer rate, 11% better than LTO 8
  • Retrieve data 73% faster with Open RAO IBM LTO 9 Tape Drive technology
  • Get better protection with Physical Air Gap adding a barrier to hackers
  • Avoid data corruption with Data immutability with WORM capabilities
  • Prevent data visibility with AES-256-bit data encryption at rest
  • Deploy tape in modern business use cases such as AI and cloud

Ninth Generation Innovation

Validated by the LTO program, tape remains a leading solution in addressing modern data storage needs. Key to note that IBM is the leading tape storage vendor on the planet, with twice the market share of any other vendor.3 This success is the result of a more than six decades-long commitment to the technology, and the adoption and execution of a product strategy based on innovation, continual improvement, constant communication with customers and business partners, and a focus on component quality.

IBM LTO Ultrium tape technology is designed for the heavy demands posed by the storage of less active data in modern use cases such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven applications, media and entertainment, genomics, video streaming, and digital archiving. This proven tape technology has been enhanced in new IBM LTO Generation 9 tape solutions to provide increased capacity, performance, and reliability compared to LTO Generation 8.

The LTO Ultrium format is a powerful, scalable, adaptable open tape format developed and continuously enhanced by IBM and the other members of the LTO Program. The current LTO Ultrium roadmap has tape technology mapped out through twelve generations. This provides confidence to consumers and organizations in the storage market that tape will continue to be the most cost-effective storage medium for many years.

LTO generation 9 specifications include previously introduced features, such as multi-layer security support via hardware-based encryption, WORM (Write-Once, Read-Many times) functionality, and support for the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) protocol. Plus, the new LTO generation 9 specifications include full backward read and write compatibility with LTO generation 8 cartridges.

LTO media has doubled in capacity approximately every 2.3 years since the first generation was launched twenty years ago. For LTO generation 9, the LTO Program elected to balance the cost and benefit of technology within the specification, offering an 18TB tape cartridge – a 50% increase in storage density from the previous generation – to address the current market for storage capacity. A new roadmap has been established with the goal to double capacity in each generation moving forward.

Additional enhancements incorporated into the new IBM LTO Ultrium Gen 9 tape technologies include:

  • A reduction of up to 39% Total Cost of Ownership of your tape library by replacing LTO8 technology
  • Up to 11% better data transfer rates from the previous tape generation, to 400 MB/s for full high cartridges and 250-280 MB/s for half high cartridges
  • LTO 9 tape drive support for the new IBM LTO Ultrium 9 data cartridges, with support for SAS 12 Gb and Fibre Channel (FC) 8 Gb interfaces
  • IBM TS4500 tape library release with support for LTO 9 with SAS-12 Gb and FC-8 Gb interfaces
  • Enhancements to IBM Spectrum Archive family support for Enterprise, Library and Single drive Editions.

A new technolog y is introduced to IBM LTO 9 tape drive technology, Open Recommended Access Order (oRAO), reduces tape data access times in LTO Ultrium Gen 9 tape technologies by up to 73%. oRAO is a data retrieval accelerator that enables tape control applications to accelerate the retrieval of files from a single tape by reducing the seek time between files. It was developed from IBM file access acceleration technology. It can add cyber resilience by optimizing the access times to recovery data. oRAO is a native drive function that supports compressed and uncompressed data and is only available for LTO 9 generation technologies.

With IBM Spectrum Archive, accessing data stored on an IBM tape cartridge – instead of on disk – is transparent. IBM Spectrum Scale keeps a pointer to the data on tape and, if requested, retrieves the data without user or operator intervention. By leveraging the capabilities of IBM Spectrum Scale, IBM Spectrum Archive enables high performance and reliable access across the storage infrastructure. In turn, IBM Spectrum Archive enables IBM Spectrum Scale installations to add extensive capacity with lower media, floor space, and power costs. And with policy-based migration, archive capacity can be expanded without impacting data availability.

Innovations such as oRAO, as well as previously introduced features like data immutability with WORM and the physical air gap offered by tape, plus AES-256-bit encryption of data at rest, help LTO tape maintain its strong position as a preferred solution for cost-efficient, secure storage.

Advantages of IBM tape solutions

The amount of stored data is projected to reach 8.9 ZB worldwide by 2024. In addition, over 60% of all data is archival and it could reach 80% (~7.12 ZB) or more by 2024. Far from being in decline, tape today provides data storage solutions to enterprises large and small in a wide range of industries around the planet. In fact, tape:

  • Tape storage as a medium can be found both onsite and offsite in many organizations, it serves as the repository for 33% of the backup and archive data today on average.
  • Technology potential to meet robust capacity predictions over the next decade is superior to HDD technologies
  • Is 7 times less expensive than disk storage in a 10 year TCO comparative study and is 3 times cheaper than all cloud systems in a 10 year TCO comparative study
  • Is about two orders of magnitude more reliable than disk
  • Can be used in production IT environments to lower costs through new software-defined storage and flash-based architectures

Unique security of tape

Even though tape has been one of the cornerstones of effective data protection strategies over the years, IT architects and decision-makers recognize that tape cannot be a complete answer. But tape does offer powerful solutions for specific threats and use cases at a cost per gigabyte unmatched by other storage technologies.

For example, ransomware attacks encrypt files, making them inaccessible, then attackers demand a ransom payment to decrypt them. These types of attacks embed time-delayed undetected malware into backup repositories. This makes file restoration pointless because as data is restored, the ransomware re-ignites and then re-encrypts the data all over again. But the air gap provided by tape can eliminate the ransomware cycle of infection and re-infection by creating a data copy essentially impossible for hackers to corrupt. Many enterprises have considered eliminating tape from their data protection environments because tape cannot achieve established recovery point and recovery time (RPO/RTO)

Contact your BackupWorks Account rep and ask about LTO-9 for your Backup and Archive environment.

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