Essential Guide

Why a tape backup system is still a good storage option

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In a tape archive system, how can LTFS and LTO products help?

Linear Tape File System and Linear Tape-Open technology can improve user access and durability in your tape archive system. Explore specific products that do the job.

Active archiving products have been pressed forward by library makers, including Spectra Logic. That company has blazed a trail to integrate active archiving directly into the workflow of specific vertical markets, like media and entertainment companies, converting video clips from editing systems into objects and transferring the object buckets directly to tape via an appliance called BlackPearl. The appliance serves as an object manager and handler, and a tape mount point, while a software interoperability layer developed at IBM and now certified as an industry standard -- the Linear Tape File System -- does the heavy lifting of writing data to tape using a file system structure.

LTFS eliminates the need for specialty archival software, since it extends the file systems of traditional servers seamlessly to a tape archive system. That is what StrongBox leverages in its gateway appliance, for example, to move data automatically from NetApp filers to LTFS tape.

Maintaining the file system structure provides immediate value in the form of user access. Users can find and retrieve LTFS data using familiar file search-and-retrieval tools. Retrieval can be accomplished using file system operators or web browser-based representational state transfer protocols common in object storage.

Despite the increasing use of disk-based archive platforms in smaller firms, larger enterprises and even cloud service providers are beginning to agree that a tape archive system is the best way to go in terms of long-term storage, especially given the durability and resiliency characteristics imparted to tape by new barium ferrite media coatings.

Barium ferrite tape is showing up in Linear Tape-Open and proprietary enterprise tape media technologies from IBM and Oracle. BaFe, which has replaced other metal particle coatings on LTO cartridges, has been demonstrated to provide storage capacities of up to 220 TB of data per cartridge. LTO-7, the current generation of BaFe LTO tape, supports 15 TB of compressed data per cartridge, delivers a 750 MBps compressed transfer rate and has a durability of 30 years. This tape archive system also features an order of magnitude improvement over disk in terms of nonrecoverable bit error rates; only flash memory competes.

Next Steps

Tape's major advantage: Lower cost

An LTFS environment could benefit your organization

Use cases for tape archive recording technology

This was last published in July 2016

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Essential Guide

Why a tape backup system is still a good storage option

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