Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Tape Is Back? When Did It Leave?

Tape has been pronounced dead more often than I can remember, but it's
important to note that it's usually disk vendors making the pronouncement. The reality is that tape is very much alive. When I ask about tape
utilization in seminars, an overwhelming majority of attendees indicate
they are still using tape. I've also seen several studies recently
indicate tapeless environments account for less than 15 percent of the data
centers. Tape is back, it really never left, and I
believe it may be the time for it to thrive.

For tape to thrive it has to become easier to use. There's probably no
easier way to make tape easier to use than to just make it act like a
file system. No one had to go to a training class to learn how to use a
thumb drive or USB stick. You plugged it in and started copying data to
it. A great example of this coming to tape is the release of IBM's Long
Term File System (LTFS) which we detailed in our article "What is
?"  LTFS allows tape media to be used like an external
hard drive or USB stick. Plug the tape in and it shows up as a browsable
mount point just like any other external device.

Beyond LTFS, there are companies that are front-ending tape and tape
libraries with a disk front-end, automatically moving data between disk
and tape as needed. Again, interaction with the tape library is like
interacting with a file system. While this is not an entirely new idea,
the ease at which the systems can be integrated has improved

The Active Archive Alliance is a good example of the
industry trying to unite the three components needed for tape to be
leveraged more often as part of an organization's overall storage
strategy. For most data centers, tape is something you deal with at the
end of the day. For tape to be more relevant, it has to be used more
interactively throughout the day. These systems do that.

Another complaint about tape has been that it's hard to utilize all of
its available performance and capacity. In my next entry, we'll examine
some of the changes in the environment that make the raw capacity and
performance of tape more relevant to more data centers.