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How are major cloud providers using tape storage today?

Find out why primary cloud providers such as Google and Amazon are shifting to tape -- and what that means for you.

There's been a huge move among the major cloud providers to embrace tape. Amazon Web Services articulated Glacier, which has a strong tape component. Google now has embraced tape as a disaster recovery modality because when Gmail went down for three days, the only way they rescued it was from a tape backup. Before, Google was all about just disk and proprietary disk appliances. Now, they're getting specialty tape libraries manufactured just for them.

There are only three major players in the cloud market: Google, Amazon and Microsoft. I don't know what Microsoft is doing about tape yet, but I know the other two leaders are there.

Then you have specialty providers like Dternity, which caters to companies that are archiving data. They put it all on tape. Why is this important? Remember when Nirvanix went belly-up? They were the No. 3 cloud storage provider in the market. What was it -- 96 petabytes of data stored in its cloud? They gave people 10 days to retrieve their data. The only way you could do it was across a wire. They ended up having to pull disk drives out of their storage, ship them back to their customers and let them figure out how to retrieve the data off the drives because there was no way to get the data back to them in time.

With tape, you always have the exit strategy: You can have the cloud provider put the cartridges in a shipping container and ship them back, just like you would from Iron Mountain. The fastest way to move a lot of data over a long distance is by putting it on an airplane.

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This was last published in February 2015

Dig Deeper on Tape backup and tape libraries

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How do you retrieve data from your cloud provider?
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If people have data stored in Amazon S3 (object), here's a free tool to migrate it to another S3 compatible system - http://blog.emccode.com/2015/02/12/introducing-s3motion/
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My organization uses Amazon S3 from AWS as our storage option. Amazon S3 provides durable, highly scalable and secure object storage. For whats more, it is very easy to store and retrieve your data at anytime from anywhere in the globe. We chose this option since it has proven to be cost since we only have to pay for the space that we use. We can retrieve our data anytime without any additional cost.
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Reminds me of the discussion of the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes speeding down the highway. And it gets higher and higher as time goes on.
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Although Google and Amazon tapes are very reliable, but I think they do run amok occasionally.

Here's the main problem: it doesn't tell you when it stops working. It spins along for a number of hours, pretending to provide you a backup. But it doesn't write your data reliably on the tape. Sometimes, it tricks you into thinking about how it works on backups. Then, when the disaster comes, you may find these tapes worthless.
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