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Tape Takes a Licking but Keeps on Spinning

by on August 10, 2010

Rapping tape as a storage medium has become au courant. One storage company, EMC, has gone so far as to start a campaign to dump the medium with the tag line “Tape Sucks.” These aspersions, however, are more a sign of the tape’s detractors’ frustration with the medium’s resiliency than its viability.

DLT Despite these caustic pricks by critics, “technology-wise, tape continues to advance quite nicely,” Wayne Kernochan, president of Infostructure Associates, argued recently in an opinion piece posted at TechTarget.

“The LTO roadmap provides clear evidence of this in the midrange, and IBM’s TS 7680 offers up to one petabyte per solution–25 PB of equivalent ‘undeduped’ storage– hardly the sign of a product lacking scalability,” he added.

Carpers of tape like to point to continued improvements in capacity and performance of their darling deduplication as foreshadowing tape’s imminent demise, but Kernochan asserts that, so far, tape has been able to counter those improvements with its own and, judging from the roadmap for the medium, should be able to do so for some time to come.

Moreover, tape continues to hold the upper hand on its competitors in an area that continues to grow in importance to business. “Tape remains far less energy-intensive than disk (despite recent improvements in the ability to ‘quiesce’ disk while it is not being used),” he wrote. “As storage needs increase by 50 percent per year and concerns about carbon emissions rise, the advantages of tape versus disk are actually increasing in some situations, such as 10-year archiving.”

“Tape does not suck….It is, simply, a storage tier that will continue to provide benefits that other media cannot match in situations that will continue to be important to the business,” he declared.

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