Ding, dong, the tape is dead: new storage systems handle both backup and archive

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. [Read more...]