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When looking at the storage technology of the future, it is too easy to forget tape, the big storage technology of the past, but it will still be a fixture on the storage landscape for the foreseeable future.
Now, it's OK to forget tape as a backup medium. Tape is too slow to use for normal everyday backing up and recovering of data. SOHO and SMB customers can more easily use the cloud for routine data protection, perhaps in combination with disk-based appliances to keep data locally for quick restores and to stage the backups when Internet latency is an issue. And enterprises will continue to adopt a combination of cloud for protection non-mission-critical data and other technologies for mission-critical data.
Tape, however, will continue to prove the lowest-cost, most reliable technology for archiving of most types of data.
Horison Information Strategies estimates that more than 85 percent of tape drives feature the LTO technology, which is currently in its fifth generation. With compression, LTO-5 tapes can store 3.0 TBs per tape cartridge with a data rate of up to 280 MB per second. However, road maps have been announced for the next three generations of LTO tape technology, with LTO-8 eventually expected to be able to store up to 32 TB of data with a data rate of up to 472 MB per second.
Tape as a storage technology for archival data will continue to offer significant advantages over disk-based storage, and even cloud-based storage. Disk storage, when used for backups, cost about four times tape, and when used for archiving the cost difference is 15-to-1.
Tape storage also remains far cheaper than the lowest-cost cloud storage on a per-GB basis, and will likely remain so for the next decade and beyond.
So while tape storage and other familiar technologies aren't going away anytime soon, the storage market is transitioning and big changes are ahead. For a look at how these changes will impact IT professionals and solution providers, make sure to read the next installment of our storage revolution series.
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