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2021 Storage Strategy - Tiering and Optimization

Long-term tape storage solutions have a long runway and many benefits versus disk and cloud.

The IT Press Tour had the opportunity to meet with executives from Fujifilm for an update on the value of tape. Fujifilm strives to continuously innovate, create new technology, products, and services to inspire and excite.

The company has been instrumental in the fight to combat COVID-19: ready to manufacture Lilly's COVID-19 antibody, develop a highly-sensitive and rapid antigen test, vaccine formulation, manufacture vaccine candidate, support vaccine candidate manufacturing, large-scale manufacturing of vaccine candidate, and deployment of a COVID-19 treatment drug outside of Japan.

Fujifilm has 50+ years in data storage and is the largest manufacturer of data storage tapes. They see plenty of opportunity with rapid data creation -- 59ZB in 2021. The archival market is 60 to 80% of all data. IT budgets are flat. Cloud repatriation is taking place. Cybersecurity concerns have increased as have demands for scale and more competitive pricing.

Fujifilm has a software-defined tape solution, a software and tape subscription model, and object storage partnerships. Tape media is included with a subscription with a double capacity of tape media included. They support LTO-8, LTO-7, and TS1160. This provides predictable storage spend with included media. This results in a reduced total cost of ownership -- 10PB over 10 years saves $13.5 million. There's also avoidance of egress fees, investment protection, and low carbon footprint and energy consumption. Software-defined tape provides increased data security. Chain of custody for PII. Avoid cyber threats via air-gap. Automatic redundant copies to tape providing reliable long-term storage technology.

Software-defined tape offers simple integration thereby extending the capacity of existing object storage. There is a reduction in cold data clutter in nearline archives. Plug and play integration with many object stores. The solution is platform agnostic open to working with any platform including S3. This avoids vendor lock-in and protects investments by using existing storage infrastructure. There are financial benefits since the subscription includes 2X capacity of Fujifilm media. Predictable storage spend with no egress fees. Lowest total-cost of-ownership -- 86% lower than disk, 66% lower than the cloud.

580 TB Tape

Fujifilm is working to commercialize a new magnetic particle that can store up to 580 TB. or 48X more than LTO-8 capacity. The new particle technology can be manufactured on existing product lines and applied beyond LTO-10. Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) has magnetic properties that are better than Barium Ferrite (BaFe) and the particle volume is reduced to less than 60%. The particle's enhanced perpendicular orientation delivers a higher signal-to-noise ratio for enhanced read/write performance.

A newly developed non-magnetic underlayer improves the smoothness of the tape surface and allows for reduced space between read/write head and tape surface for maximum performance.

As unstructured data continues to grow at 30 to 60% annually, enterprises must support diverse use cases and must reduce costs. -- Gartner's 2020 Strategic Roadmap for Storage, July 2020

Tape has an advantage versus disk and cloud for less frequently accessed data. Over 10 years, total cost of ownership is 25% of low-cost disk systems and 33% of cloud back-up archives. While data is growing at 35% per year and IT budgets are growing at 3% per year, tape becomes a more obvious solution to long-term cold storage.

Hyperscale data centers are adopting tape to reduce long-term data retention and protection costs, reduce energy consumption, and to gain a competitive advantage in the price-sensitive cloud service provider market.

Organizations will focus on continuous cost optimization and fiscal constraints in the post-COVID digital economy. -- Gartner's 2020 Strategic Roadmap for Storage, July 2020

OVHcloud is working with IBM and Atempo to create a trusted and secure cloud storage tier. OVH is using IBM 3592 20TB tape since it provides the lowest cost per TB of storage. Tape is secure, scalable, and reliable. The bit/error rate is better than other recording media. It provides 30 years of archival life and when idle, requires zero energy consumption.

Baidu is using the IBM tape library platform to achieve exabyte-level tape scale application. It's the first cloud platform in China to launch tape archive services. Over the past nine months, Baidu has used 100,000 tapes to store more than 900 PB of data. Compared with ordinary storage, the cost of archive storage products has been reduced by 85%.

Facebook applied for and received a patent for increasing the longevity of archival tape. Microsoft is using tape for Azure archival storage tier.

Two-thirds of storage admins report that half of their total data stored is inactive. They will likely need to archive or migrate this data to a lower-cost tier. -- Gartner's 2020 Strategic Roadmap for Storage, July 2020

Even after 60 years, there is a lot of runway for tape to improve performance and cost-efficiency.


According to, 51% of surveyed businesses were hit by ransomware in 2020. Ransomware kits are available for $50 on the dark web. $5,900 is the average ransom for a small business. The average ransom demand in 2020 is $178,000, up from $84,000 in 2019, and $6,000 in 2018. 25% of ransomware victims make payments to hackers. And, in 2020, a company will be hit with ransomware every 11 seconds.

Recommendations from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency include regularly backing up data, having an air gap, and password protecting backup copies offline. Implement a recovery plan to maintain and retain multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, secure location.

Backups are critical in ransomware recovery and response. If you are infected, a backup may be the best way to recover your critical data. Tape provides an air gap defense. An air gap has no electronic connection to the data on the removable tape cartridge, therefore avoiding unauthorized access.

Cybersecurity threats and ransomware attacks will impact 95% of I&O leaders through 2024. They will increasingly need to prove their data is secure and reliable. -- Gartner's 2020 Strategic Roadmap for Storage, July 2020

Climate Change

As there are more data and more stories about the impact of climate change, enterprises will be forced to become more proactive. Tape-related energy consumption produces 87% less CO2. Reduced energy costs contribute to 86% lower TCO for tape solutions.

Key Takeaways

  • The value of data is increasing so retention periods are longer.

  • The value of data changes over time.

  • Access frequency changes over the data lifecycle.

  • Need to balance cost per TB and performance.

  • Consider energy consumption and climate change.

  • Have an ongoing strategy to get the right data, in the right place, at the right time.


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