The Storage Technologies That Refuse to Die

spinning circular arrow around a hard drive graphic

Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Flash storage capture most of the industry headlines, and adoption of these systems is accelerating. But behind the scenes, legacy storage still plays a vital role for many enterprises.

Tape archiving continues to grow

Figures published by the LTO Program Technology Provider Companies who manufacture tape backup drives reveal that these units are far from redundant. By aggregating sales data from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Quantum and the other alliance members shows that 76,000 petabytes of compressed capacity were shipped during 2015.

More interesting still was the discovery that this represents a 17.8% growth on 2014’s figures. Tape is not only popular, but demand continues to grow since figures were first published in 2000. Intriguingly, LTO-3, LTO-4 and LTO-5 still make up a third of annual capacity.

These statistics confirm our own observations; CDS provide third party support and maintenance to customers who rely on tape as part of their long-term backup and archiving strategy. We have one customer who is still relying on a 20-year old StorageTek drive for instance.

Spinning disk is still vital

Spinning disks are the less sexy workhorse of the majority of data centers, providing the inexpensive capacity backbone for almost every operation. Even when data is outsourced to the cloud, there is a very good chance that it resides on spinning disks in the hosted data center.

Consequently, sales of hard drive units also continue to rise – and will continue doing so until flash units are able to offer similar per-unit capacities.

A chance to kill tape?

Analysts have predicted the death of tape for years, but the technology continues to thrive. Its end could finally be heralded by the arrival of the cascade-down approach to system upgrades.

Advocated by CDS, this methodology sees mission-critical systems being upgraded to provide faster processing, or increased capacity. The redundant units are then used to replace older systems, helping to improve their overall performance too. Taken to its logical conclusion, this could see tape drives replaced with low cost, high performance hard drives.

So it could be that tape really is approaching the end of the line. 

To learn more about cascade-down upgrades from businesses who have made the switch, reserve your place on our Data Center Reality Check webinar  that takes place on June 9th. It could be the most valuable hour you commit this year.