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IT Managers Walk Tape Tightrope

SECAUCUS, New Jersey -- Users that continue to rely on tape for backing up or accessing critical data do so at their peril, IT managers and industry experts warned at an industry event today.

Randy Kahn, CEO of analyst firm Kahn Consulting said that although tape is a cost-effective, long-term storage medium, it may not be the best option for firms that need swift access to key pieces of information. "Is it sufficiently accessible, can you get to it when you need to get to it?" he asked.

A number of firms have already incurred the wrath of regulatory bodies, thanks to their inability to produce critical data when requested. Morgan Stanley, for example, was recently slapped with a $15 million fine by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for failing to produce email evidence in court. (See Email Travail.)

According to the SEC, the firm allegedly didn't produce backup tapes on request, never archived emails for faster searches, and overwrote backup tapes containing subpoenaed emails.

Kahn told Byte and Switch that such high profile storage snafus highlight the need for firms to rethink their storage strategies. The majority of firms, he explains, are currently using backup tapes for the wrong reasons. "Backup tapes are essential, but they are essential for disaster recovery," he says. "It's the worst possible place to park records that you need immediately."

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