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Is Tape Dead?

Video? Yes. Audio? Yes. Storage? No.

We had the opportunity to meet with Harunobu Oki, Manager of Branded Solutions, Chris Kehoe, Head of Infrastructure Engineering, Reza Elemad, Sales Manager, EMEA, and Rich Gadomski, Head of Tape Evangelism at Fujifilm during IT Press Tour #35.

Fujifilm has been in the data storage business for more than 50 years and is the largest manufacturer of data storage tapes. Seventy percent of their revenue comes from products they did not manufacture 10 years ago.

Things To Know About Tape Technology

  • Tape is the market leader in data archiving. 14% of all data is saved on tape, 58% of archived data is on tape, and tape is growing 24% per year.

  • Every industry uses tape and 97% of the largest European companies keep their data on tape.

  • The growth in tape sales comes in part from how the world is using digital data due to the abrupt acceleration of data digitization and new laws on the conservation of data require new data storage systems.

  • An enterprise hard drive fails every 55 hours while an enterprise tape fails every 11 years.

  • In 2020, tape has evolved to achieve significant performance gain in a small footprint.

  • Over the last 6 years, tape storage capacity has increased 4.8X, the transfer rate has increased 2X, and the data integrity has improved 100X.

Current Market

Software-defined tape is seeing a resurgence as data volume and the archive market continues to grow while IT budgets are flat. Enterprises are retreating from 100% cloud infrastructure to hybrid multi-cloud based on the needs of the organization. Cybersecurity issues continue to abound as the importance of data grows and attack vectors expand. Companies are exploring how to optimize storage to meet the current and projected needs of their business.

Software-defined tape is user friendly. It is an object-based archive software. There is an S3 compatible gateway to tape. It operates like Glacier in data centers. An optimized tape tier provides long-term (10 years+) retention.

The OTFormat optimizes performance by packing objects in an open format, can write objects to tape, are self-describing, and supports LT07 and above.

To expand the value proposition, Fujifilm is including the tape medium with a subscription. This provides double capacity of tape medium which is included and leverages the latest generations of tape media and a predictable storage spend.

This results in a significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO). A company will save $13.5 million on one petabyte of storage over 10 years by avoiding egress fees and having the lowest carbon footprint and energy consumption. Tape saves 86% versus all disk storage and 66% versus all cloud storage.

Tape also provides increased data security with a chain of custody, avoidance of cyber threats in the gap between online access and offline protection, and automatic redundant copies to tape which is more reliable than alternatives.

Software-defined tape addresses many of the challenges in the market today like scale, security, unpredictable costs, vendor lock-in, chain-of-custody, and TCO.

Target customers are research, genomics, life sciences, analytics, oil & gas, monitoring & evaluation, high-performance computing, and transportation. Use cases include active archives and deep archives of 1PB+ of data.

Key Takeaways

  • Works with any platform

  • Avoid vendor lock-in

  • Protect data

  • Predictable storage spend

  • No egress fees

  • Low TCO


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