It was clear when DVDs hit the market back in the 1990s that they offered a richer movie viewing experience than VHS tapes. But for a time, tapes and VCRs were cheaper so we had to wait for the cost of DVD players to come down – and for the word to spread – before the new technology overtook the old.
It’s been a bit more complicated for IT departments to decide whether or when to switch from tapes to disk for their data backup and archiving strategy. Partly because, historically, tapes were higher density and cheaper than disk and because tapes were considered safer against loss, corruption or disaster. But using tapes often also meant dealing with poor recovery times, copying dozens of copies of the same document. Disks for their part got more dense, faster and less expensive. Not to mention that new disks could usually be added through cheap storage arrays or servers, while more tape usually meant a bureaucracy tape infrastructure – more towers, more robots and more tape drives. Still, in the mid-2000s, with all the advances working in disks’ favor, some believed that tape was undergoing a renaissance, pulling away again due to capacity limitations for disk. The result? A cold war truce of sorts between the two technologies – long-term archiving to tape, shorter-term backups to disk.
But as with another cold war truce back in the second half of the 20th century, the cause of progress never rests and then one day, bam, a tipping point is reached, the wall crumbles and a new day dawns. You only have to turn on the news around the world these days to see how something a long time in coming is upon us in an instant.
That may finally be the case for the demise of tape with the advent of information infrastructure solutions that use a single disk-based deduplication storage system that unifies both IT’s operational backup needs and long-term data retention requirements. These new simple and cost-effective single systems allow users to extend backup redesign efforts to address long-term data retention efforts, all on a single disk-based system – without compromising backup performance. In other words, unified solutions now finally exist that truly offer the best of both worlds – using disks.
Backup tape, RIP.
Watch the Eulogy to Tape: