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

Monday, June 9, 2014

New approaches to dealing with long term file storage

Are you tired of messy data build up? Is your data center file server storage filling up with infrequently accessed files? Simply deleting them is usually not an option, as many of them may need to be kept for a variety of business reasons. On the other hand, taking on a massive archive project is hard to justify in an era of tight budgets.  The default answer in many cases is to simply buy more file servers, and postpone dealing with the problem until another day when budgets and resources are less scarce.

While certainly understandable, simply adding more storage, can be an expensive approach. It and can also impact backup windows and increase the storage management workload. With the introduction of the new StrongBox DataManager feature, the Crossroads Systems StrongBox is powerful solution. It provides the function necessary to easily move files off existing file servers, and onto lower cost storage. In addition, once the data is on the StrongBox, policies can be implemented and the data secured for the long term. For more information on this challenge, check out the “Why StrongBox Beats Disk for Long Term Archiving” whitepaper at Why StrongBox beats disk.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bending the Cost Curve - Leveraging Tape Technology to Deliver Budget Savvy Data Storage

Have more data than budget for storage? Are you looking for ways to reduce the cost of data storage? Then the BrightTalk webcast “Bending the Cost Curve: Leverage Tape Technology to Deliver Business Value” with Jon Toigo (Toigo Partners Intenational) and I might be of interest. Some of the highlights of the web cast were: The growth of digital data is projected to grow at over 40% per year, and highly virtualized environments are reporting growth of over 300% per year. However, studies suggest that as much as 40% of the data residing on Tier 1 storage has not been accessed in over 6 months. Moving this “stale” data from primary storage to tape storage, may significantly reduce overall storage costs.

Jon discussed tools and techniques, including new storage offerings, that take advantage of tape storage to lower overall storage costs. We also had an enjoyable "Between Two LUN's" question and answer session that touched on Cloud Storage, the changing role of tape, and the relative total cost of ownership of tape storage solutions versus high capacity disk system. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tape storage claims commanding capacity leadership

There is a torrent of computer storage announcements. Hardly a day goes by without some breaking news about new storage offerings. It is a veritable windstorm of information, and it is sometimes difficult to hear any particular voice in the maelstrom. Among the recent announcements was the interesting debut on September 12th by Oracle of the StorageTek T10000D tape drive and an 8.5 TB tape cartridge Oracle T10000D Announcement. Now, you may ask, what’s the big news with this announcement? The short answer is that this tape capacity is over 2X the capacity of the highest capacity Hard Disk Drive (HDD), 4 TB, which are used in enterprise disk and NAS systems today.   This has significant implications for overall storage infrastructure and cost requirements, especially for the storage of less frequently accessed data.

Let’s put this announcement in a bit of context. Imagine you had access to the Delorean featured in the movie “Back to the Future” and could travel ten years back in time to the year of 2003. For those of you that recall, the cry of “tape is dead” was echoing throughout the storage industry.  What tape cartridge capacities would you find? What HDD capacities would you find? You would find that the highest capacity cartridge was the 300 GB IBM 3592 Enterprise tape drive (OK, for those that are storage historians, there may have been other formats with higher capacities, but they were not widely used and were not commercial successes, I’ll confine my analysis to suppliers/formats that are still in the marketplace today). In the same year, the highest capacity HDD was 250 GB and it was being used in file server, block storage and specialized archive solutions.  The tape cartridge to high capacity disk ratio was 1.2X.

Given these capacities,the storage of 1 Petabyte (1,000,000 GB) of archive data would have required 3,334 of the highest capacity tape cartridges available. This many cartridges would have required a very large library (assuming that the data was not compressible).  If stored in a disk subsystem , it would have required 5,000 HDD’s , assuming that they were used in RAID 5 disk system (80% usable).  Needless to say, this would have required many disk systems that would include not only the enclosures for the HDD’s, but the associated control units.  

Contrast that with today’s technologies; with the 8.5 TB tape capacity, to store this same amount of data, would require only 118 of the StorageTek T10000D tape cartridges, which would fit comfortably in a small tape library or a small set of slots in a larger library. The disk system requirement has dropped significantly too, but still would require over 310 HDD’s and a couple racks of disk enclosures and control units.

The next couple of years will likely see increases in both HDD and tape storage capacities, but barring a radical change in direction, tape will continue provide historically high ratios of tape cartridge to disk capacities.  The bottom line is tape remains, and is likely to remain,  a very compelling and cost effective solution for the storage of less active data.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lowering long-term archive storage costs with Crossroads Systems StrongBox

This white paper updates the 2012 white paper to highlight the financial benefits associated with a new way to store file-based archive information. The paper explores the use of IBM Linear Tape File System (LTFS) technology , LTO Gen 6 tape and intelligent archiving to lower the total cost of ownership for storing file-based information. The paper provides examples of operational, acquisition, and maintenance costs to create a true understanding of the cost for storing digital data. A low-cost solution is introduced and research methodologies are explained in detail.
The paper can be found at Archive TCO White Paper