Why Use Enterprise Tape?

Posted on February 02, 2012 By Henry Newman

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It is now February 2 -- Groundhog Day -- and LTO-6 has not been officially announced. The most recent press release on the lto.org website is from August 24. What is the proposed media type, what is the density, and how will that compare with enterprise tape from the two enterprise vendors, Oracle and IBM? At least today, the LTO hard error rate is two orders of magnitude less than enterprise tape at 10E17 bits vs. 10E19 for enterprise tape. For those sites that have large amounts of LTO tape, I believe it is time to consider looking at the enterprise alternatives. Both have greater density than LTO, both are faster read and write than LTO, and both are considered more durable than LTO. Of course, everyone will say the price for LTO is lower. I encourage everyone to look at not just the tape and tape drive prices, but also the cost of the library and the bandwidth comparison, looking at:

  1. Tape library costs, as with LTO you will need a large library for the same amount of storage. Do not forget to include all of the licensing costs.
  2. Tape drives based on bandwidth. Yes, LTO drives are less expensive than enterprise drives, but you will need more of them to achieve the same bandwidth. Do not forget to consider the load and unload times, as generally enterprise drives are faster.
  3. You of course will need many more LTO tapes given the differences in density.

Everyone will need to run the numbers for themselves to see the cost differences, but I think you will see some surprising results with very large storage configurations. Of course, the larger the configuration, the more data moved and therefore the higher probability that you hit the hard error rate with LTO. Time for a second look at enterprise tape.


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