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A Great Decade For Tape

As I wrote about in my most recent entry, LTO-5 adds some capabilities
that will lead to this being a great decade for tape. This time,
the latest generation of LTO is bringing more to the table than just
speed and capacity. LTFS, as we describe in our recent article "What is
is a great example of that. In fact, while capacity did see its
normal upgrade in this generation, speed was only upgraded slightly.
Fear not, speed upgrades will be back on track in generation 6. Holding
LTO-5 back a little, but putting LTO-6 back on track, is a smart move by

Ever since LTO-2, and definitely since LTO-3, one of the biggest
challenges has been designing a backup environment that can stream data to
these tape drives. In fact, as I commented on Marc Crespi's blog "Is Disk
With Deduplication Really Faster than LTO4 Tape for Backups?
," one of
the big advantages of disk is how forgiving it is of slow backup jobs.
If you can get tape streaming, it is fast. The challenge is getting it
streaming. Today this requires either a caching of backup jobs to disk
first or a direct local backup.

If the LTO-5 spec would have done its normal doubling effect, I'm not
sure how many data centers would have been able to take advantage of the
performance boost. The advantage of slowing down on the performance
numbers means the pricing of the drives should be less expensive. It is
more economical to use the slower components.

When LTO-6 comes to market, we see a return to larger performance
upgrades. This again makes sense. By the time we see LTO-6 come to
market, much of the shift to either 10GbE or 8Gb FC should be well
underway. Depending on how the timing works we may also see 16Gb FC by
that point. We will have the infrastructure to move the data. Despite
all the gains we are making in deduplication and compression
technologies, the amount of data to be protected and the size of those
components will continue to increase. In short, we will need that

So where does disk as a backup target, the thing I normally write about,
fit into all of this? We'll cover that in our next entry.