Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cloud Storage: Rent or Buy?

With data archive requirements continually growing, the Cloud is frequently mentioned as a low cost option for storing infrequently accessed data. But is it really the lowest cost alternative for the storage of infrequently accessed information? This analysis demonstrates that a private cloud solution has a significantly lower Total Cost of Ownership over five years. Cloud Storage: Rent or Buy?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IBM Unleashes LTO Generation 7

Yesterday IBM announced a comprehensive set of tape storage offering incorporating the new LTO generation 7 tape drives. The new LTO 7 tape drives and media provide a native cartridge capacity of 6 Terabytes (15 TB with compression) up from 2.5 TB in the LTO 6 offerings and a data rate of 300 MB/second up from the 160 MB/Second for LTO 6.  As with previous generations, the new tape drives protect customer’s media investment by having the ability to read and write to LTO 6 tape media, and reading LTO 5. The new LTO Gen 7 tape drives are incorporated across a broad set of platforms and libraries from entry, standalone half height SAS tape drives, to small tape libraries, to mid-size libraries, to large enterprise fiber channel tape libraries. An overview of the announcement can be found at LTO Overview and Tony Pearson from IBM updated his blog here: IBM Storage Blog. Details on individual offerings can be found here IBM LTO announcement. All of the offerings show planned availability dates in 2015 with the first shipment dates varying from 10/23/2015 to 12/4/2015. 

As customers wrestle with the growing demands to store, manage and preserve dramatically growing amounts of digital data, the new LTO 7 tape solutions provide a welcome relief. The higher capacity and performance of LTO Gen 7 provides the ability to cost effectively store very large amounts of archive, big data, video, and other information. By integrating with a broad range of tape automation, IBM customers can apply the new technology across a wide range of capacity and performance requirements.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A cloud storage TCO comparison

The amount of digital information organizations are generating and retaining continues to grow unabated. It was not that long ago that a few terabytes of storage in a data center was considered a massive amount. Today organizations store tens, hundreds or thousands of terabytes of data and there is no indication that the growth rate is going to slow. Much of this information must be kept for the long term. This challenges the IT organization; how can service levels be met while meeting regulatory, legal and business needs? How can it be cost effectively stored?

A new solution has emerged to help address these questions; cloud storage. Proponents of cloud storage point to a number of benefits, among them is substantially lower cost than traditional on premise storage.  User cost savings accrue by reducing the amount of hardware, software and storage management required. This is made possible through the use of ready-made cloud based storage infrastructure, thereby eliminating many of the storage costs and management tasks required to effectively manage a large and growing amount of information.

However, understanding and comparing cloud storage costs can be a challenge. Sponsored by Fujifilm, this white paper presents a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) comparison between a leading cloud storage provider and the new Fujifilm Dternity Media Cloud service. It is based on a representative 250 TB use case that includes estimates of the amount of data to be stored and its activity level.  While the leading cloud storage services are viewed by industry observers as very cost competitive, the Fujifilm Dternity solution provided an even greater TCO savings. It was estimated to be 34% less expensive over the five year analysis period and the hybrid on premise/ public cloud mixed solution was 47% less expensive. The paper can be found at: Cloud Storage Services TCO Report

Friday, April 10, 2015

A view into the future

Making storage decisions often requires an estimate of where the underlying technology is going. It’s a bit like driving on a foggy night, at times the visibility is pretty good, and at other times, it is difficult to see ten feet in front of you. The last thing any decision maker wants to do is place an organizations data on a storage technology that is coming to a dead end.  Yesterday, IBM cleared some of the fog away, and provided an exciting view of tape storage technology New Record for Tape Storage. Working in conjunction with Fujifilm, they demonstrated an areal recording density of 123 billion bits of uncompressed data per square inch on low cost, particulate magnetic tape. This translates into an estimated tape cartridge capacity of 220 TB, or roughly 88 of today’s LTO Generation 6 tape. It’s a long way from the lab to commercial availability, but with this kind of visibility into the potential for tape storage, storage decision makers can look well down the road and see that tape storage is likely to remain the lowest cost storage technology for the foreseeable future.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tape Storage - A solution for today and tommorrow

As organizational data storage needs continue to soar, the unique characteristics of tape storage and robust technology roadmap provides a compelling case for expanding its usage. The Tape Storage Council just released a memo that discusses the recent advances in tape including significant increases in capacity, performance, durability and reliability. Some of the highlights include the October, 2014 announcement by IBM of the new TS1150 tape drive with a 10 TB Enterprise tape cartridge, the 2013 announcement by Oracle of the T10000D tape drive including an 8.5 TB tape cartridge, and the September, 2014 LTO Consortium tape roadmap extension to generations 9 and 10 with compressed cartridge capacities of 62.5 TB and 120 TB respectively.  In addition, recent demonstrations by Fujifilm, Sony and IBM demonstrate the capability of tape storage to meet future capacity and performance requirements. The memo can be found at my website memo or visit the Tape Storage Council at Tape Storage Council

Monday, October 13, 2014

10 TB Tape Cartridge Arrives

Among the IBM storage announcement last week, a 10TB (native) tape cartridge was announced in conjunction with the new TS1150 tape drive TS1150 Announce. This offering is the highest capacity tape offering in the marketplace, surpassing the Oracle StorageTek T10000D 8.5 TB tape capacity which was announced last year T10000D. This new capacity point continues to position tape storage as a very cost effective, highly reliable solution for data protection.

The TS1150 is the latest in a long series of IBM tape drive offerings whose lineage can be traced back to the 3592-J1A. The J1A was announced in September, 2003. The J1A was a radical departure from the previous enterprise tape technology, incorporating new, smaller tape drive packaging and improved tape media. The capacity for the tape cartridge was 300 GB, the highest capacity commercial tape offering in the marketplace at the time.

Putting this announcement in perspective; the 10TB tape cartridge is a 33X improvement over 11 years. This represents a compound annual capacity improvement rate of 37%. Imagine that you were able to invest $1000 in 2003 and the investments earned a 37% annual rate of return. The current value of those investments would be 33,000!

The industries continued capacity improvements enable customers to store very large amounts of data, at extremely competitive costs. This latest announcement, in combination with the tape technology announcements by IBM/Fujifilm New Record and Sony Sony highlight the fact that tape is an ideal solution for data protection and retention today, and likely for the foreseeable future too.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How to lower long term data retention costs

There is an abundance of innovation taking place in the storage industry today; high capacity disk drives, flash, cloud, software defined storage,  tape and integrated systems that combine elements of each. However, when crafting a solution for the long term storage of digital data, an essential aspect of the solution has to be cost effectiveness. But as important as cost may be, it can be a challenge to sort through all the different technologies and cost components to develop a reliable estimate of the cost of storing digital information over an extended period of time; there are so many variables, and different technology life cycle considerations.  However, by establishing some initial cost estimates, and making a set of projections, it is possible to develop a reasonable assessment of the long term costs of storing file data.

For example, two storage technologies that are frequently considered for long term data storage today are a high capacity, low cost disk system that presents a NAS/CIFS interface to the user, and integrated NAS/tape solutions that present NAS/CIFS interface, but differ from traditional disk systems by transparently placing the file data on LTFS tape storage. To develop a cost projection over 10 years, a few assumptions and estimates have to be made; the amount of data to be stored, whether the data is reducible, the initial solution components and associated costs, the feasible life span of the initial solution and estimates of future support and energy costs.

With these considerations in mind then, let’s get started; we need 1 Petabyte of data stored for 10 years and that it’s not reducible. The tape NAS solution will include an appliance, the Crossroads Systems Strongbox, tape library and LTO Gen 6 tape drives and media. This solution is used for the entire 10 year period.  The disk solution is a composite average of four different low cost, high capacity NAS or object storage solutions that had publicly available pricing and configuration information.  This solution is refreshed in year 6 with a solution based on 12 TB HDD’s effectively reducing the support and energy costs by 2/3 for the remainder of the period.  For all cases, support and energy prices are projected to increase at 3% annually. 

With this set of projections, what is the 10 year estimated cost of storing 1 PB of file data on the two solutions? For the tape solution, the total cost is $ 234,525, for the disk solution, the total cost is $519,904. The total cost of the tape solution is 55% less than the high capacity disk solution.  In addition, the energy consumption of the tape solution is over 90% less than the disk solution. While there are a several estimates and forecasts in this analysis, they are certainly reasonable based on current technology trends. It is clear that for long term data storage, a solution that incorporates tape is likely to substantially reduce the overall cost of storing important file data. Link to report