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posted by Spectra Logic Corporation on Sept. 8, 2014 (2 years, 9 months, 20 days ago)

Tape technology’s speed, affordability, and reliability make it increasingly central to data protection as the volume of data continues along its steep growth trajectory. This growth has propelled tremendous advances in physical tape digital storage technologies over the past ten years. These advances warrant further analysis that can help data storage customers select the right tape technology for each data protection environment.

Tape dominates as the storage industry’s preferred form of removable media, and remains the hands-down leader in additional categories that include cost and reliability. The archival lifetime of tape for storing data securely, and maintaining the data’s integrity, is unmatched, with an archival life of 30 or more years given an easily maintained environment. Further, the IBM and Fujifilm announcement in 2014 of a 154 TB (native) capacity tape1 and the Sony announcement in 2014 of a 185 TB (native) capacity tape2 demonstrate that tape has a long, viable future in data storage.

This white paper examines the major tape technologies that compete in the medium–sized and enterprise organizations market. The competitors include LTO, offered by IBM and HP, and proprietary drives from Oracle, Sun, STK, and IBM. LTO’s primary advantages include value, open tape format, and quality. The proprietary drives advantages reside in their performance, capacity, reliability and superior roadmap.

The drives reviewed are typically used in automated tape libraries, and are evaluated in that context. Some libraries provide automation features that play a significant role in maintaining data integrity through drive and tape health management, a consideration that may affect tape choices given the enhanced data reliability through automation. Further, some drives have innovative features that warrant mention in this analysis.

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