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Why Tape Storage Helps—Not Hurts—Competitiveness

by on September 23, 2011

A recent article paraphrased an EMC exec as saying that “businesses that still store data on tape are less competitive and more vulnerable to security breaches and data loss.”

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Really? So companies like Intel, AT&T and Anheuser-Busch (just to name a few of our tape management clients) are made less competitive by their decision to incorporate a low-cost, reliable, secure, green, durable medium into their data storage strategies? In a word: no. The fact of the matter is that incorporating tape into an enterprise storage strategy can help keep the organization running efficiently and effectively—enhancing, not reducing, its competitiveness.

The EMC spokesperson goes on to say that “Businesses and public sector organizations can dramatically cut costs and become leaner by getting rid of tape, which is cumbersome and vulnerable to security breaches.” In fact, tape beats disk on cost, with the average tape-based solution having been found to cost 1/15 of the average disk-based solution. Tape storage is extremely straightforward to manage, and is simplified further when you add in a tape management solution. As far as security vulnerability, data stored offline on tape is out of hackers’ reach and safe from system corruption, unlike data stored online or in the cloud. And, in this day and age, we know how to keep track of tape so there’s no excuse for the security breach of having one go missing. If properly managed, tape storage is an extremely secure way to go.

The EMC source cites a “pressing” need for companies to switch from tapes to electronic disk libraries. The two key reasons he gives:

  1. “relentless data growth” driving the need for cost-effective storage
  2. the need for organizations to retain data for extended timeframes for legal reasons

Truth be told, these are actually reasons to keep or even expand tape as part of your storage strategy.

Tape’s relative cost advantage makes it very well suited to play a role in storing all of those bits and bytes resulting from the data explosion. Tape especially can add value as part of a tiered storage strategy or active archive, providing a low-cost way to store the large percentage of organizational data that is inactive. Tape’s cost-efficiency, environmental friendliness, reliability and durability also make it perfectly suited for long-term data storage for legal, compliance or business reasons.

These are the facts of the case for tape and, although they are still disputed, they really do speak for themselves. I beg to differ, Mr. Ward of EMC: Tape does not lower a business’ competitiveness—exactly the opposite. Let the healthy debate continue, as tape continues to prove itself as an efficient, effective, even competitive way for businesses to store their ever-growing volumes of data.

What do you think? Does tape help or hinder organizations?

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