Funny Thing About Tape: It Is Not Dead

By Henry Newman

I have heard for over 20 years that tape is dead and that the next generation of disk drives will eliminate the need for tape. An unnamed storage vendor told me in a briefing in 1996 that tape is dead and asked why I would want to use tape for archival storage. 15 years later, tape is still with us. Someone recently shared this tape assessment with me.

I, of course, was laughing during the whole video, and the person next to me on the plane this morning thought I had lost my mind. Instead of declaring time and time again that tape is dead, maybe vendors ought to embrace the whole storage hierarchy. Most RAID storage vendors already use SSDs, enterprise SAS and SATA drives, I would call that a storage hierarchy, wouldn't you? What is the aversion to adding tape to the hierarchy?

Ah, now I get it, if you do not have a product that you can sell, the best thing to do is diss the technology. Tape is not dead and, at least for the foreseeable future, it will not be disappearing from the storage hierarchy for archival data. The amount of archival data is growing very rapidly and will continue to do so. Why does my doctor need to keep my patient records on spinning disk using power when I have not visited him since March? Since tape is more reliable than disk, uses far less power and therefore is perfect for archival data, why is there any question?

Vendors that diss a technology do so for a reason, and generally it is because they do not sell the product.

This article was originally published on June 14, 2011