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Why tape works for active archiving

David Hill, analyst with the Mesabi Group, discusses tape’s role in active archiving.

Why is tape suited for active archiving?

The first factor to consider is that enterprises cannot afford to store all of the enormous amount of data constantly being created on disk. A good deal of data is not performance-driven, but may need be retained for a long period of time.  Tape storage is less expensive than disk when you’re talking about those massive data stores. Not everyone (including some public cloud providers) understands this, but they will when others can compete more effectively economically using tape.

The advent of LTFS (Linear Tape File System), in conjunction with LTO-5 tape technology, has been a major factor in improving the ease of use of tape for active archiving. LTFS lets tape appear as disk to applications. Since access is still sequential on tape, compared to the random way it is accessed on disk, it does take longer to get to the data. However, this is more than acceptable for many use cases, such as digital video, older medical images and video surveillance information. Using LTFS in front of a tape library to create an active archive is sometime referred to as “tape NAS.”


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