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Well Du-uh…

by Administrator on May 28, 2008

This press release hit the wire at 6AM.  I was told to embargo it until then…


Study Demonstrates 23X TCO Savings and 290X Energy Advantage by Utilizing Tape

SILICON VALLEY, CALIF. — (May 28, 2008) — The results of a cost analysis that includes a review of potential hardware, energy and environmental costs highlights the potential advantages of using tape in tiered storage infrastructures and substantial business savings when compared to all-disk archiving solutions.

The sponsored white paper, written by David Reine and Mike Kahn of The Clipper Group, looked at total costs of ownership over a five year period for the long-term storage of data in tiered disk-to-disk-to-tape versus disk-to-disk-to-disk solutions. After factoring in acquisition costs of equipment and media, as well as electricity and data center floor space, Clipper found that the total cost of SATA disk archiving solutions were up to 23 times more expensive than tape solutions for archiving. When calculating energy costs for the competing approaches, the costs for disk were up to 290 times that of tape.

“Our goal was to answer the overriding question of ‘how much does it really cost?’ to provide readers with a balanced ‘apples to apples’ comparison of these two archiving approaches,” said Mike Kahn, Managing Director, The Clipper Group. “In the end we have determined that a blended environment of disk and tape is the right configuration, incorporating both high performance disk to satisfy contracted SLAs along with the lower TCO figures of tape for long-term storage.“

“While the CIO might be anxious to push forward with newer technology, our paper shows that disk-only archiving solutions are not a replacement for tape if cost is at all an issue — disk should be used to complement tape,” said Dave Reine, Director, Enterprise Systems, The Clipper Group. “Our findings show that there are substantial potential savings when using tape in tiered approaches, and even when you factor in de-duplication, tape-based strategies still provide an estimated 5:1 cost advantage over de-duped disk in archiving.”

Findings of the report include:

  • The total cost of ownership of SATA disk archiving solutions is about 23 times that of tape-based archive solutions
  • Tape is the more energy efficient choice for the data center, providing up to a 290:1 advantage on energy costs
  • Tape is the more economical solution for long-term storage requirements for mid-sized data centers
  • Tiered D2D2T solutions can be justified on acquisition costs alone
  • Employing de-duplication can bring down the overall TCO of SATA-based archiving solutions, but tape-based archiving still has an estimated 5:1 advantage

“Tape is an integral component of a user’s information infrastructure strategy,” said Cindy Grossman, Vice President, Tape and Archive Systems, IBM. “A tiered storage blend of disk and tape can help the IT manager address a myriad of data center goals that include SLA performance targets, disaster recovery, archive, data security and of course, TCO and energy consumption.“

LTO tape technology provides advanced backup and archiving features that are required in today’s data centers, including 256-bit drive-level data encryption, WORM support, high capacity — up to 1.6TB per cartridge — and blazing performance at up to 240MB/second (LTO-4 at 2:1 compressed to support data retention needs. With low energy consumption, tape technology can also provide organizations with a green alternative for the data center, providing energy savings for businesses.

The Clipper Group paper, “Disk and Tape Square Off Again – Tape Remains King of the Hill with LTO-4,” is available for download from A companion webcast, hosted by Reine and Kahn, is available for archived viewing at

(Okay, Jon.  Say something nice. I’ll try.)

First off, if you wanted to know that tape was more cost effective than disk, you could have asked respectable guys like Fred Moore or Randy Chalfant or Nathan, Matt or Molly at Spectra Logic, or Rob Sims and the gang at Crossroads Systems, or Kevin Daly over at iStor, or half a dozen others I can think of.  You don’t need to hire Clipper to say it for you…too many three letter guys do that already.

We understand that tape is cheaper storage anyway you cut it.  Even the old saw about labor cost accelerators spoiling the comparison don’t mean anything when you consider the AFR of disk and the way that lots of disk add up to lots of disk failures.

The problem with tape is that it has become the whipping boy in many IT shops.  Mostly, that’s because it is used incorrectly — LTO should not be applied when 24 X 7 duty cycles are required, for example.  Also, you really don’t need to write everything to tape, certainly not the repository full of Britney Spears videos, Jenna Jameson bit torrents, or hip hop mega-MP3s from iTunes.   And, of course, it goes without saying that you should not outsource your backup brain to your backup software:  it doesn’t know how to segregate your backups into sequential batch jobs so they get done on time:  it only sees a TB and believes the myth that a TB takes one hour to back up in LTO land.  When the superstream breaks down, the efficiency is lost and drives are no longer driven at their rated speeds — hence, shoeshining, back hitching and backups that take way longer than they should.

Perhaps the LTO guys thought we needed some handy stats to reference.  I guess the tape industry will be all over this one and referencing the report to bolster their white papers and other leave behinds just as the replace-disk-with-tape have been leveraging the counter white papers from Gartner and Forrester that give stats on tape failures that are bought and paid for by their sponsors.

Sanity is needed in this discussion.  That’s one reason why I so enjoyed the chat I had yesterday with Sepaton.  They make VTLs, and they have de-dupe, but they are not so frackin’ idiotic as to claim that they eliminate the need for tape.  I will reward them shortly with a positive write-up, partly based on their rational view about tape, but also for their rational view of just about anything storage, de-dupe or VTL related.

Watch for it.  

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

taylorallis May 28, 2008 at 11:48 am

You do know that Sepaton spelled backwards is “No Tapes” – they founded part of their business on getting rid of tape. So the no tapes guys think tape is useful now? I’d love to hear about what changed their minds in your write up…

Administrator May 29, 2008 at 8:37 am

I knew that. Interestingly, however, there was no reference to that in their talk. Either they understood that they were talking to a person with pro-tape leanings, or they appreciate what the preponderance of their customers are telling them — they want to keep tape, but just want a buffer disk layer for doing quick restores.

ryno101 May 29, 2008 at 8:18 pm

I like Sepaton as well… they’ve got a good product, but I’m leery of the comment “They’ve got dedupe”.

They’ve been promising dedupe for months, and I have not heard from any of our customers (I work for a VAR) that that dedupe has been delivered.

mollyrector May 30, 2008 at 5:34 pm

As a vendor in the industry for nearly 30 years, Spectra has watched the “future of tape” marketing hype ebb and tide. The simple fact remains that tape is the right place to store data for long-term retention. New technology always brings new hype, but never changes the facts. Spectra, a disk and tape vendor, finds reports such as this one from Clipper useful: these resources help customers analyze the total costs that can be associated with storing their data – hopefully in a more comprehensive manner than they did in the past. In looking at the total solution that a customer needs for short and long term data storage, I don’t think anyone could really look someone in the eye and say disk, even with deduplication, offers the affordable depth of storage or power efficiency that tape does. I also don’t think anyone could really look a customer in the eye and say tape solves issues like remote replication or frequent small file restore as well as disk. There is a place for both. Constant advances in tape and disk technology continue to make each better for what it was designed for. We should not try to convince customers of disk OR tape, but instead educate them on how best to integrate disk AND tape.

Administrator May 30, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Amen to that, Molly.

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