Tape Drives – doing their bit for your Corporate Social Responsibility targets

Drawing of tape storage with environmentally friendly logo

Posted on Thursday, January 7, 2016

The death of tape has been repeatedly announced for nearly two decades as hard drive costs decrease. But just as everyone is ready to call time on the technology, a new advance in compression and capacity provides another stay of execution.

Spinning disks have one major advantage over tape – access speeds. As a result, archived data can be retrieved from hard drive storage far more quickly than it can from tape. But this convenience comes at quite a cost.

More power, more carbon, more cost

Consider a basic EMC Isilon S-Series NAS storage unit, providing 7.2TB total storage built on 24 x 300GB drives. According to EMC’s specifications, the typical power consumption runs at 425 Watts per hour.

Do the math and that equates to 3723kWh over the course of the year. And in the case of the Isilon S210, this is a relatively small storage unit. Genuine data archives are likely to be much, much larger, drawing a lot more power.

The more power you use, the higher your energy bills, and the more carbon your company is responsible for releasing.

Don’t dump your tapes just yet

As useful as it may be to have archive data instantly available, the reality is that there is rarely any need. And certain types of data are maintained purely for compliance purposes.

Keeping this data on tape actually makes more sense for a number of reasons:

  • There are no continuous power costs other than running tape drives and the loader robot itself.
  • Archive tapes are less susceptible to the mechanical failure that affects hard disk drives.
  • The overall running costs are much lower for tape archives.

Becoming more responsible

Reducing energy consumption is fast becoming a business priority, first to cut costs, and then to help meet corporate social responsibility targets. Most enterprises have set themselves targets to shrink their carbon footprint, but adding more energy-intensive IT hardware will just make it harder to meet them.

Although it may be tempting to purchase new disk-based archiving systems, there is a good business case for keeping your tape systems in service. And if you’re serious about reducing your corporate carbon footprint, tape isn’t a bad place to start. 

Need help and advice about keeping your existing tape archiving system running smoothly? Get in touch.