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Tape is dead? Don't believe the hype

Guest post by Simon Watkins, StorageWorks nearline tape product marketing manager


A new year has dawned but the same old “tape is dead” hype continues to be peddled by some of our competitors.  Tape’s supposed obituary—proclaimed predominantly by storage vendors that only have disk in their data protection portfolios—always brings to my mind the following phrase:  “When you are a hammer everything looks like a nail...” In other words, disk-based data protection will always be the solution you recommend if disk-based data protection is all you can offer.



In reality, tape-based data protection—in combination with disk—is alive and kicking.  Customer demand for tape remains strong and the technology continues to play a crucial role in the storage hierarchy. With exciting technology innovations such as HP’s Linear Tape File System (LTFS) opening new markets and applications, the future of tape looks bright.



The best metric for the continuing value of a technology is market adoption—and customers continue to vote for tape with their wallets:




  • According to the Santa Clara Consulting Group, total world-wide tape storage media capacity shipped has reached record levels with almost 4,000 petabytes shipped in the third quarter of 2010, a growth of 15% quarter on quarter and 30% year on year.
  • According to IDC1, 111,601 LTO tape drives shipped worldwide in the third quarter of 2010, a growth of 19.9% over the 93,040 shipped in Q309.  Since 2001, more than 3.7 million LTO Ultrium drives have shipped worldwide, according to IDC. That’s the equivalent of one LTO Ultrium drive shipping every ninety seconds for the last ten years!  
  • According to the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)2, 82% of organizations still use tape to support all or a portion of onsite backup processes.
  • Customers spent $1.5 billion worldwide on tape drives and tape libraries3 and $606 million worldwide on tape media in the first three quarters of 20104.

HP LTO-5 with LTFS—innovation that heralds a new era for tape




HP Linear Tape File System (LTFS) delivers a new class of portable storage media based on open standards. It combines the economy, robustness, high density and low power of tape, with much of the functionality and usability of a hard drive.  





LTFS has captured the imagination of many customers, vendors and analysts in the storage industry, as this collaborative LTO website conveys. And it’s not hard to understand why.  HP LTFS provides a self-describing file system on a HP LTO-5 cartridge, which enables the combined benefits of application independence, transportability and protection from obsolescence.




HP LTFS—revolutionizing the value of tape storage for the media & entertainment industry



The benefits of HP LTFS are particularly relevant for media and entertainment companies that need storage solutions that simplify operations, improve manageability and meet their long-term data retention requirements. 


There is already significant industry momentum behind developing the full potential of HP LTFS in this vertical market segment.  For example, Cache-A Corporation, a leading supplier of network-attached archive appliances for the digital film, broadcast and video professionals, recently announced that it will collaborate with HP to develop an easy-to-use implementation of HP LTFS for the professional media and entertainment industries.  The LTFS solution will enable clients to more effectively safeguard data, increase data mobility and share content organization-wide.



It’s safe to say tape is alive and well!  Go here to read more about HP’s next-generation family of LTO 5 tape backup, archive and disaster recovery solutions. Or check out our previous blog post which gives you Six reasons why tape is still alive and kicking.  And let us know how your organization is putting tape to work.


1 IDC WW Factory Exit Tape Drive Tracker Q3 CY’2010  (December 2010)

2 ESG Tape Remediation Whitepaper -

3 IDC WW Branded Tape Drive/Automation Tracker Q3 CY’2010 (December 2010)

4 Santa Clara Consulting Group Tape Media Tracker (December 2010)


Mike Cavanagh | ‎02-09-2011 09:17 PM

Interesting take.  When will HP have library back up LTFS systems?

btw- StorageDNA's Evolution can directly synchronize and archive to HP's LTFS LTO-5 system. Shipping today.  The Evolution product alllows rich media workgroups to synchronize from SANS or workstations WAN connected systems.  Looking forward to seeing the Cache-A prototype at NAB 2011.

| ‎02-19-2011 12:46 AM

Hi Mike - thanks for your comment.  HP LTO-5 tape drives and HP LTO-5 tape libraries are LTFS ready today.   A growing ecosystem of applications and solutions – including offerings from Cache-A and Storage DNA – are coming to market that solve the challenge of not just making HP LTO-5 tape look like disk but also make HP LTO-5  tape behave like disk.  Stop by and see us at NAB 2011.

Calvin (@HPStorageGuy)

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