Skip to content

The Future of Tape: The Short and the Long of It

by on September 27, 2011

Two recent storage media technology news items underscore the fact that tape will live on in the data storage world in both the short and long term:


  • LTO-6: In the relatively near term (although the availability date hasn’t been announced yet), Linear Tape-Open Ultrium Generation 6 tape format licenses are available, as I mentioned over the summer. A recent post on IT Knowledge Exchange states that vendors already are “starting to make noises about LTO-6.” LTO-6’s 8 TB capacity (triple that of its LTO-5 predecessor) and increase in data transfer speed to up to 525 MB per second demonstrate that tape is continuing to evolve to meet the storage needs of the future. The LTO Consortium also has erased any doubt that tape will continue evolving over the long term with its roadmap showing the next two generations beyond LTO-6, with further enhancements in capacity and data transfer speed.
  •  “Petabyte in a Rack Unit”: IBM is developing a “futuristic” storage medium, which it expects to launch in about three years, that could store data for as long as 50 years. This technology advancement would eliminate the need to move data from one storage device to a newer generation of hardware, also doing away with the cost and risk such a transfer incurs. Described only as an “unspecified magnetic technology that could store a petabyte of data in a standard 1U rack unit,” this technology would be used in conjunction with tape, maybe to access archived data via the cloud.

Both IBM’s thinking around this development and the LTO Consortium’s plans for LTO-6 send a strong statement: Rather than disappearing, tape will continue to play a role in data storage, and even technologies described as “futuristic” will continue to work alongside the old storage gold standard. As storage technologies evolve, so too will tape—a medium that, clearly, will remain alive and well in both the short and long term.

One Comment
  1. That IBM system might seem great, but it will be a lot of money and only large corps will be able to buy it. We have not seen the last of tape for backuping up for long term just yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: