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Big Backup Needs and No Room For Error? Take a Look at Tape

by on March 10, 2012

Cost, complexity, compliance, capacity. These are all words echoing in the minds of media management professionals as they look upon the monumental challenges standing before them in the age of big data. But although the parameters of the job are new, the solution is not. When organizations need to get big backup projects right the first time, there’s a reason they still choose tape.

Cloud and, to a lesser extent, disk based backup have grown in stature in recent years with vendors and supposed industry experts touting a laundry lists of benefits. But once this marketing hype fades away, it is clear to see that each has some ground to cover before they can be expected to oust tape from its position at the head of the table. This notion was plainly illustrated in two significant archiving endeavors announced in just the past few weeks.

Britain’s Imperial War Museum is one one the world’s most iconic cultural institutions. Curators have taken on the admirable task of chronicling the nation’s military history from its intervention in World War I. Spanning five different facilities throughout the country, the IWM’s collection includes a library of 155,000 books, 6,500 hours of video tape, 6 million photographs and more than 32,000 hours of audio recordings. Some of the earliest footage of Sir Winston Churchill and rarest first-person accounts of the Battle of Britain are held in these archives.

To ensure these cultural artifacts are preserved for scholars and curious observers for generations to come, IWM officials have taken a proactive approach with the implementation of a new tape-based active archive and backup system.

“When IWM embarked on this ambitious project we were aware that our storage requirements would potentially be huge, making capacity, scalability and cost-effectiveness major factors in how we architected our mass storage platform,” technology director Ian Crawford explained.

Aside from safeguarding history, tape is also helping innovators shape the future.

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) recently implemented its own tape-based active archive to address its evolving storage needs. The massive facility serves as a base of advanced operation for the U.S. Department of Energy and Office of Science as researchers leverage supercomputing resources to predict and solve the problems of tomorrow.

With 140 million files to manage, and data growth rates hovering between 50 and 70 percent each year, officials knew they needed a cost-effective solution capable of managing vital data sets for years to come.

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