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Is Tape Really Dead?



By Darrell James, Worldwide Product Alignment Lead, HP Storage Consulting


It's impressive what can be stored on silicon these days. For the evidence, look no further than our HP 3PAR StoreServ flash-optimized storage technologies.


At the same time, we've been hearing a lot this year from start-ups like Pure Storage, a maker of flash array solid state storage solutions, as they trot out the ageless arguments for the “death of tape” (see this blog by Scott Dietzen).


It's important to keep this in perspective, though.


With the capacity and price of disk increasing and decreasing respectively, it's easy for some to assume that all data can just sit on disk indefinitely.  New backup-to-disk technologies allow data to be saved to less expensive disk; they also reduce tape management overhead and offer superior restore and DR functionality.   As is widely known, most data becomes less and less accessed after 90 days or so.  However, for regulatory compliance, most data has to be kept for a minimum of one year to indefinitely.   Keeping all backup data on disk can prove to be extremely costly if you consider all your data critical. 


Tapes have also come a long way with regard to capacity, price and functionality. Fewer, larger capacity tapes can now be used for archiving and sent offsite for disaster recovery requirements.  Encryption is popular with physical tape for some critical data, and continues to evolve.


In the past you would need to keep the old technology around just to read older tapes.  New technology now allows you to read and migrate older LTO tapes to newer versions.  You also have to keep in mind, as technology changes, that you will need to migrate the tape data in order to ensure that it can be read decades from now.  Most backup applications allow for this level of migration, which ensures that a business can recover when needed. An optimum backup environment utilizes both backup-to-disk appliances for shorter-term retention with immediate restores, and physical tape for archiving.


Rumors of the death of tape and disk are much exaggerated, and both can play a role in your Storage systems for a long time to come. But, for sure, if you're interested in flash storage, you'll want to check out our all-flash array, HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 Storage


Read about our latest Converged Storage innovations, newly announced at HP Discover in Barcelona, here.


Learn how HP Storage Services can help you make the right choices for your storage environment.





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