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Aiming high: LTFS now recognized as an International Standard by ISO


The Linear Tape File System standards are so high, they’re managed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). To fully understand this tape storage milestone, let’s look at LTFS's journey to international recognition. 

What do Quality Management, Social Responsibility and the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) have in common? All three have standards managed by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). As you probably know, ISO is an tape storage backup data protection Blog.jpgindependent, non-governmental international organization that develops international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

ISO originated in 1946 with delegates from 25 countries to coordinate industrial standards. Today, ISO is comprised of members from 161 countries and 3,368 technical bodies to manage standard development. Adding the LTFS specification to the ISO family of standards is a clear proof point of the validity of the technology, giving users added confidence that LTFS is here to stay.

How did LTFS become an international standard?

To fully understand this milestone, we’ll take a look back to better understand the progression of the LTFS standard. LTFS was first introduced shortly after the release of the HPE StoreEver LTO-5 tape drive in 2010 which provided enabling technology for LTFS. With LTO-5, partitioning was included in the LTO specification allowing a tape cartridge to be split into two independently-addressable partitions. These partitions were the building blocks for LTFS which utilizes the first partition to store the file location information and the second partition to store the files. Now users and applications can easily and quickly see which files are on a cartridge and can quickly navigate to them for easy retrieval. To help customers take advantage of tape with LTFS, HPE developed and released two simple software utilities. HPE StoreOpen Standalone and HPE StoreOpen Automation are simple, easy to use solutions, built on the LTFS standard and provide easy access to files on tape across a range of operating systems. Both are available as a free download from HPE. 

LTFS and the LTO Consortium

Initially, the LTFS specification was managed and controlled by the LTO consortium, of which HPE is a founding and contributing member. The LTO consortium provides ongoing management and development of thISO.jpge LTO standard to ensure interoperability of the LTO tape drives and media. With the introduction of LTFS, the goal of the consortium was to help customers and software providers understand the value that LTFS brought to data protection, building on the open standards that LTO is founded on. LTO interoperability gives you choice points without fearing vendor lock in.  With the addition of LTFS, now users can even prevent vendor lock in on the software side of the solution. The LTO consortium operates an LTFS Format Compliance Verification process to help ensure that interoperability, and of course HPE’s StoreOpen software offerings have been validated through that process.

As LTFS continued to gain traction with customers and solution providers, so did its journey as a standard. In 2012, ownership of the LTFS spec was moved to the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) which now allowed vendors outside the LTO consortium to participate in the on-going development of the LTFS specification. As a contributing member of the SNIA working group, HPE provided significant input and drove the creation of new features and capabilities to enhance the usability and reliability of LTFS. It was during this time frame that the HPE StoreEver LTO-6 drive was also introduced, once again showing commitment to the LTO roadmap and providing our customers with greater capacity and throughput than previous generations while maintaining backwards compatibility.

Enter the HPE StoreEver LTO-7

 In late 2015, the seventh generation of the LTO tape drive from HPE was introduced. The HPE StoreEver LTO-7 drive offers a whopping 6TB of native storage on a single cartridge with throughput up to 300 MB/s. At 2.5:1 compression, that means you can get 15TB of data on a single cartridge or up to 1.2 PB in a single HPE StoreEver MSL6480 library. Stacking up to 7 additional expansion modules means you can get over 8.4 PB in a single rack. Expanding on LTO-7 and the LTFS capabilities, the HPE StoreEver Archive solution provides a robust and feature-rich solution for archiving data. Beyond the capabilities of the StoreOpen solutions, this solution allows users to access data on a tape library as if it were a network mount point using CIFS or SMB connectivity with a host managed disk buffer to facilitate data movement to ISO acronym meaning.jpgand from a tape drive. The solution provides data replication and user-defined directory structures amongst many other capabilities utilizing the LTFS format for long term data archiving. 

That brings us to the present. As mentioned, the LTFS Standard is now part of the ISO Standard, the pinnacle of standardization worldwide. Combine LTFS with the HPE StoreEver LTO-7 tape drive and an MSL6480 Tape Library and you have a robust solution built on open, international standards. As LTO tape continues to be the choice point for long term data archive, having a solution built on open standards is key to long term data accessibility. Using the HPE StoreEver archive solution is a great choice for protecting and securing your long term data, knowing you can get it back when you need it. HPE is proud to be a member of a large number and variety of standard bodies.

Our participation in these organizations makes practical business sense, allowing HPE to be an influence in our industry and creating greater choices for you as we aim each day to compete and win your business.

Get greater in sights in to HPE StoreOpen with LTFS Best Practices with this white paper.

Learn more about the HPE StoreEver tape storage.


Meet Around the Storage Block blogger Mark Fleischhauer, HPE StoreEver Tape Storage Solutions Engineering Manager.



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