LTO6 : There’s Life in the Old Dog Yet!

dog graphic with a tape drive as a face

Posted on Thursday, April 23, 2015

As hard disk drives have got larger and cheaper, many industry analysts expected tape drives to disappear into obscurity. But as the Big Data trend continues to gather pace, far from disappearing into obscurity, LTO technology has simply evolved to keep pace.

LTO capacity has now fallen below the 1¢ per gigabyte price point, helping to fuel rather than lessen uptake. HP reports that global tape capacity shipped reached 6.6PB in Q3 2014, setting a new record high. These prices, coupled with increased capacity and new Linear Tape File System (LTFS) technologies means that tape is still cheaper than hard disk drives for enterprise grade backup. Factor in portability and the relative ease of storage, and it is easy to see why LTO still plays a major part in enterprise storage provisions.

But far from being a legacy system that is due to be phased out, research from The Enterprise Strategy Group reveals that 56% of enterprise businesses actually plan to increase their tape storage capacity. In fact less than one-fifth of businesses surveyed were actually replacing, or downsizing their current tape backup provisions with spinning disk or Cloud alternatives.

The fact that global tape backup capacity continues to grow is not purely down to CTOs and COOs doubling-down on technologies they know and trust either. Many senior technical experts question whether Cloud offers the same flexibility as a local archive system as none of the major players currently offer long term (5+ year) archival plans, instead focusing on immediate, pay-as-you-use provisioning. Because of these concerns, here at CDS we would suggest that Cloud storage will instead act as a tertiary layer for data storage – a backup of backups for the least used data.

So against the odds and the predictions of naysayers, LTO appears to have a long and healthy future ahead of itself. And with post-warranty and legacy tape livraries in services, CDS, can increase the lifespan well beyond what OEMs would have clients believe possible.