How Tape Shapes UpBy Channel Insider Staff | Posted 2004-01-16 Email Print
Tape remains the leader of the backup pack, delivering more bytes for the storage buck than even the lowest-cost disk drives.Tape remains the leader of the backup pack, delivering more bytes for the storage buck than even the lowest-cost disk drives.
Tape thrives because every information technology executive worth his or her onions recognizes the absolute need to keep copies of any data that affects operations or financial results. Obviously, companies must ensure they can conduct business even if their primary databases go haywire. But also underscoring the importance of tape storage are government regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the healthcare arena, which are forcing organizations to retain electronic records for yearsor even decades.
Because backup and archiving systems are effectively insurance policies for data, reliability is everything. Seasoned backup administrators like tape storage because it's proven to be extremely dependable. "I've been working in the I.T. field for 20 years, and it's rare that I've ever seen a tape go bad," says Gabriel Calderon, a systems administrator who handles backup for the Denver International Airport.
Still, while tape is the standard for backup and archiving today, a shift is underway toward using low-cost disk drives as the building blocks for large data repositories to supplement tape storage systems. Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) disk drivesthe variety commonly found in desktop PCsare about a penny per million bytes, compared with typical enterprise disk storage systems that are 10 times or more expensive. In fact, the major suppliers of tape storage, including ADIC, Quantum and StorageTek, have rolled out disk-based backup systems in anticipation of changing customer requirements.