Tape is still alive - or at least in conversations and discussions

StorageIO Industry trends and perspectives imageBy Greg Schulz

Depending on whom you talk to or ask, you will get different views and opinions, some of them stronger than others on if magnetic tape is dead or alive as a data storage medium. However an aspect of tape that is alive are the discussions by those for, against or that simply see it as one of many data storage mediums and technologies whose role is changing.

Here is a link to an a ongoing discussion over in one of the LinkedIn group forums (Backup & Recovery Professionals) titled About Tape and disk drives.

Rest assured, there is plenty of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and hype on both sides of the tape is dead (or alive) arguments, not very different from the disk is dead vs. SSD or cloud arguments. After all, not everything is the same in data centres, clouds and information factories.

For what it's worth, I removed tape from my environment about 8 years ago, or I should say directly as some of my cloud providers may in fact be using tape in various ways that I do not see, nor do I care one way or the other as long as my data is safe, secure, protected and SLAs are met.

Likewise, I consult and advise for organisations where tape still exists yet its role is changing, same with those using disk and cloud.

I am not ready to adopt the singular view that tape is dead yet as I know too many environments that are still using it, however agree that its role is changing; thus I am not part of the tape cheerleading camp.

On the other hand, I am a fan of using disk based data protection along with cloud in new and creative (including for my use) as part of modernising data protection. Although I see disk as having a very bright and important future beyond what it is being used for now, at least today, I am not ready to join the chants of tape is dead either.

Does that mean I can't decide or don't want to pick a side? NO.

It means that I do not have to nor should anyone have to choose a side, instead look at your options, what are you trying to do, how can you leverage different things, techniques and tools to maximise your return on innovation. If that means that tape is being phased out of your organisation, good for you. If that means there is a new or different role for tape in your organisation co-existing with disk, then good for you.

If somebody tells you that tape sucks and that you are dumb and stupid for using it without giving any informed basis for those comments then call them dumb and stupid requesting they come back when then can learn more about your environment, needs, and requirements ready to have an informed discussion on how to move forward.

Likewise, if you can make an informed value proposition on why and how to migrate to new ways of modernising data protection without having to stoop to the tape is dead argument, or cite some research or whatever, good for you and start telling others about it.

On the other hand, if you need to use FUD and hype on why tape is dead, why it sucks or is bad, at least come up with some new and relevant facts, third-party research, arguments or value propositions.

You can read more about tape and its changing role at tapeisalive.com or Tapesummit.com.

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