Even though cloud backup solutions have matured a lot over the past ten years, many enterprises are still in the storage-tape era. Although discs and optical drives were supposed to kill them in the 1990s, tapes have hung on. While consumers have waved goodbye to their VHS and audio cassettes, many enterprises still find tapes indispensable. The primary advantages of tape include low cost, no bandwidth requirements and ease of portability (can you move 100 TB across town in an hour using any other means?). However, I think the time has come to ditch the tape.
- Tapes can often be unreliable, and their quality diminishes with time (after about 5000 writes). Also, they require a lot of protection from the environment to keep them in a dark and dry condition. When you are dealing with sensitive enterprise data, you cannot afford to lose even a small portion of them.
- Enterprises are generating data at a rapidly increasing rate. While the weekly tape backup might have worked a decade ago, it doesn’t work anymore. Thus, you are forced to increase the frequency of tape backups, which are labor-intensive and can get expensive. With cloud backup, you can for backup to be continuous.
- The time needed to retrieve data from tape can be very long, as the data has to be read sequentially. With a cloud storage solution, you can easily recover the data and achieve better business continuity.
- When you store tapes on-site, you increase the risk of data loss (when your office faces a disaster). Ideally, you want to store the data as far away from your site location as possible, so that anything that affects your work site does not affect the data. However, storing it off-site requires you to rent a space and also to transport the data to the location each time you backup.
- Ease of use. Archiving on tape is labor-intensive and very cumbersome, and requires special training. However, cloud storage solutions can be relatively easy to use and automated.
- Data security. While cloud storage faces a few data security issues, the problems are even greater with traditional tape. If the tapes are stored off-site, they have to be guarded 24/7 against various kinds of threat. Not many SMBs can afford to have a higher level of security for their archives. However, following the best standards in encryption and data security processes, cloud computing can provide you with better data security at a lower cost.
- And finally, the cost. Cloud storage costs have come down a lot when adjusted for inflation. With increasing advances in disc drives and data center technologies, along with decreasing bandwidth costs, the cost advantage of the tape is rapidly disappearing.
Thus, you don’t have many excuses left to stay with tape.
By Balaji Viswanathan