As we near the end of the calendar year, the time seems right for a look back at the biggest stories in 2011 related to tape storage. I’ve covered a lot of ground in this blog over the past year—clearly, there’s been a lot to talk about. Here are some of the key themes in 2011 related to storing data on tape.
- Tape doesn’t suck—and it’s making a comeback. Contrary to what the tape-bashers out there would have you believe, businesses continued to find tape to be a robust, cost-effective, green, reliable way to store data in 2011. The majority of businesses reported still using tape storage for onsite backups, as well as for offsite backups and disaster recovery. Experts at the Tape Summit in May went so far as to proclaim a tape renaissance, as businesses increasingly turned to tape to cost-effectively deal with the data explosion and the compliance and legal need to keep more data for longer.
- Tape keeps evolving. In June, the LTO Consortium announced the availability of licenses for its still-under-development LTO Ultrium Generation 6 tape format. With this next generation of tape, industry leaders HP, IBM and Quantum are proving their commitment to continuing to invest in making tape better and faster—a sign of ongoing life for tape as a storage medium.
- Data keeps getting bigger. The volume of data continued to grow at a blistering pace in 2011, by some accounts on pace to double every 14 months or so. This so-called “Big Data” phenomenon continued to bring both good news and bad news in 2011. The good news: businesses have tons of data at their fingertips, which they can use as an asset if they play their cards right. The bad news: so much data, much of it inactive, can be difficult and costly to store and manage.
- Active archiving is on the rise. The words “active archive” seemed to be on everyone’s lips in the storage industry in 2011. Put a convenient file system front end on a tape library, and what do you get? A solution to managing the rapidly exploding data universe, 60 to 90 percent of which is inactive. An active archive can make data readily accessible without the cost and hassle of storing every kilobyte online. Companies increasingly turned to active archiving as a way to store only the most frequently accessed data on disk and the rest on low-cost, easy-to-manage tape.
- Cloud adoption rises, while questions still abound. Companies continued to incorporate the cloud as part of their enterprise storage strategies. Questions remained about security, compliance and reliability in the cloud, as well as whether cloud storage and tape storage could coexist. (They can.)
- Mobile adds complexity. Growth in mobile computing, particularly in tablet PCs, challenged IT managers to walk a fine line between enabling the business (read: accommodating those demands from the C-suite) and protecting data. Smart policy and storage decisions were the first steps toward successfully navigating this challenge.
- Compliance keeps getting tougher. No matter what your industry, compliance requirements seemed to become tougher than ever in 2011. From eDiscovery compliance becoming more difficult, to the new HIPAA audit program, to the Volcker Rule that will affect financial services firms, more stringent requirements seemed to appear everywhere you looked, bringing with them more challenging data management requirements.
What other top tape storage stories crossed your radar screen in 2011? And what do you think 2012 will bring for the tape storage industry? I’ll be sharing my own predictions in an upcoming post and I’d love your input.