The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – The Storage Room
The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – The Backup Reminder
The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Forecasting
The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Obscurity
Move From Archival Tapes To Cloud Backup Solutions

Move From Archival Tapes To Cloud Backup Solutions

Cloud Backup Solutions

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


Balaji Viswanathan is the founder of Agni Innovation Labs that helps startups and small businesses with their marketing and tech strategy. He has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Maryland and has been blogging for the past 7 years on technology and business related topics.

5 Responses to Move From Archival Tapes To Cloud Backup Solutions

  1. @cloudtweaks great article! @Fippex uses the #cloud to make its customers lives much easier! We’d love to know what you think of us!

  2. Well Said Balaji. Tabs can’t be always reliable. Now a days Most of people are moving to cloud back solutions. I hope your 7 golden reasons are useful for the people who still using Archival taps.  There are lot of benefits you can find when using cloud back up solution. framework cloud services is a reliable company in Portland providing cloud back up solution at affordable rate.

  3. Certainly nice points! Very well documented Balaji. The majority of business-critical applications continue to rely on access to a fast storage. For these applications, any delay in access can greatly affect the results. For this reason, it is vital to the business to consider the cloud back up and storage for many data processing applications.

  4. Balaji,
    This is the age old argument about tape vs. disk.  Though you make several observations based on history, you haven’t necessarily included all sides of the argument.  Tape technology has again answered the call by increasing capacity and speed with LTFS…which not only is much cheaper but also will soon surpass the speed of disk.  All this while being a green solution!  Additionally, there are definite thresholds for being fully cloud capable related to security issues, compliance, scaling data requirements, and the overall spanning data pool growth.  Many SMB and even large companies are able to manage these thresholds but others have massive data scaling taking place.  So it simply does not make sense to move legacy or point-in-time data to have it all in “The Cloud”.  Costs scale, as do security management requirements related to breach (for which there remain serious concerns).  Tapes cannot be hacked, especially offline.
    I understand that “The Cloud” means many things to different people and the plethora of options can cause confusion. There are in fact many great cloud solutions available today and RPO’s require immediate failover/access.  However again, what is the sense in paying 3, 4, 5 times the cost (or even higher) just to have everything in the cloud?  Storage and recovery are two different things! This is just the start of my argument.
    As an IT professional, I am an advocate for both tape and disk.  In my experience, I have seen many companies move to the cloud, replication and/or entirely disk only to still qualify a need for having archive offline data on tape.  Just take a look at EMC World blogs where “Tape in the Cloud” is the biggest blog thread.  As for the cloud itself, I realize there have been many enhancements to security, yet it is still a concern among professionals and will remain as such as long as it is so readily accessible. 
    The world is populated with some really intelligent people!  Sadly, as long as there is a challenge to get access (hack), there will always be someone willing to try. With that said, the question for any organization is risk vs. convenience.  Tapes of course can be lost as well.  However the chances of even gaining access, let alone the ability to read the tape based data (once in hand), are extreme.
    From my experience in knowing and working with many CIO’s, VP’s of IT, and IT professionals, is that multiple mediums including disk, tape and cloud all have a place computing. Rather than endorsing cloud only, why not promote a wide array of solutions?


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