Anyone who has worked with LTO tapes is well aware of the challenges. Let’s just say that they are anything but easy to deal with. From the lack of accessibility to the complexity of management and overall costs of maintaining and expanding aging tape libraries, the challenges have been a thorn in the side of many an IT administrator.
Historically, organizations have bitten the proverbial bullet and implemented tapes for long-term data archiving and backup, inheriting along with it all the associated problems. However, the remote aspect of distributed teams during COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the accessibility and maintenance challenges inherent to large data tape libraries. Also, security and secure remote access have become a critical element when considering data protection and business continuity. With production and engineering teams alike finding themselves “locked out of the building,” managing physical tape media and remediating mechanical issues with tape libraries has proved difficult if not impossible.
The drawbacks of tape that are even more highlighted by the pandemic include:
- Accessibility: This one is obvious. The lack of immediate and complete accessibility has never been more problematic than during the pandemic.
- Durability: Mechanical failures around tape library robotics and tape media failures inside have meant truck rolls into the tape vaults – not ideal for a shelter-in-place situation.
- Compatibility: New tape drive hardware has limits to its backward compatibility, which have required recoding at a time when data availability has been the prime objective for business continuity
- Security: Ransomware attacks have become commonplace during the pandemic. Considering the various drawbacks associated with tapes, the rationale for using tapes for ransomware protection is up for reevaluation. As they say, data not retrievable in the right timeframe is data not protected. This is especially true in the case of ransomware
As companies look to increase the capacity of their storage, as well as the frequency with which they access it, object storage checks off all the right boxes in terms of data durability, availability, performance, and accessibility. Whether in the public or private cloud, object storage overcomes the limitations of LTO tape listed above and has become the go-to for most IT administrators looking for a better solution. If you’re running tape today, it makes a lot of sense to evaluate the benefits of switching to object storage before the limitations of your current solution impact your business more severely — and the sooner the better. As tape infrastructure ages, the transition only becomes more difficult.
As with any major technology shift, there are many important factors to take into consideration.
Tape: Does it Measure Up?
An Insider’s Guide to Data Center Modernization
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