back to article Tape business shows steep decline

The tape drive and media business shrank by a quarter in 2009. At this rate it could enter irrelevance in a few years time. Tape market tracking organisation the Santa Clara Consulting Group said (pdf) tape drive and media sales represented a $1.58bn market in 2009, down 25 per cent from $2.1bn in 2008, which was lower than the …

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Coat

Tape dying

Good. As I recall, Home Taping Is Killing Music.

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External Factors?

While I agree that tape is becoming 'old hat', there may be other factors affecting the decline in sales that can't simply be mapped out over the next 20 years.

Global Recession. Companies feeling the squeeze are more likely to reuse and extend the life of tapes to cut costs (never mind financial types 'forgetting' to back stuff up to cover up huge blunders.)

Avaliablity of larger capacity tapes (less required, init?)

Intermediate backup. We use a cheap and cheerfull SATA array to store temporary daily backups and only go to tape for the weekly archive backup. Again, less tapes, but we still need 'em.

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curve

Extracting a geometric progression from one sample of a common ratio ? See any problems there?

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Carefully chosen numbers?

So, the 2007-2008 figures show a 7% drop, the 2008-2009 figures show a 25% drop, from which you decide that assuming a 25% annual drop is not only sensible but reasonable enough to justify a big in-article graph? That seems a bit suspect.

Apart from anything else, in a recession people will likely have cut back on buying back-up media - because backups, like extended warranties and service contracts and on-site support agreements are an invisible benefit to anyone who doesn't regularly avail of them - so it seems less bad to cut spending on backups than on other IS infrastructure.

Tape drives will probably disappear into IS history as time goes on and newer, more efficient technologies take its place - but I'm not convinced that the pattern by which this happens will match your projections.

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Linux

Legacy rules, OK?

You forget the Telecoms industry, where hardware isn't replaced until hit by a passing asteroid. Tape was alive and well there 10 years ago and will no doubt be there at least another 10.

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Poor reporting

Some way below Chris's usual high standard. Taking one year's downturn (in the middle of a recession) and projecting forward 20 years is just plain daft. While I've no doubt that sales of LTO drives in 2029 are likely to be minimal, I see no reason to assume that tape backup is on the way out in the next few years.

Disk-to-disk can only form part of a complete backup regime. How are you going to achieve off-site and archival storage? Even if the logistical problems can be solved, you'd need to increase your total disk storage capacity by at least one order of magnitude, and the cost of doing so is going to make any tape solution look cheap.

And no-one better mention clouds ... 8(

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Black Helicopters

I know the cause!!

It's those dirrrty Pirates! Arr!

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Curvy!

Lovely curve, but does it have any basis in reality? I suspect tape will never quite go away, but it will become an ever-more niche business. And so it it should decline asymptotically- approaching but never reaching zero. Much like the curve in the article.

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Disappearing Tape?

Just curious if anyone knows how many hard drives it would take to store 1 Petabyte of data??

I'm not worried about tape media 'becoming irrelavant' any time soon....

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Anonymous Coward

Thanks, you saved me some reading there.

I haven't bothered to read the article after spotting the fancy graph with, generously, 20/23*100=86.96% made up numbers. I don't know what way the wind'll blow but I do know these are distant cousins to the itanic projections.

Simple logic tells me there will remain a market for backups, in fact lots of critically important data isn't backed up at all currently, and lots more data gathering is in the planning (despite some token gestures by the current new crop of lying thieves, er, right honourable politicians). Backups need longevity, recoverability, but don't need performance, though with disk as cheap as it is, tape does need to become much cheaper or much faster, preferrably both, to retain its niche. But *some* form of cheaper-than-primary-disk mass storage will remain in demand. If you think "the cloud will take over", well, how recoverable is a cloud failure, anyway? Going to phone amazon for your lost bits?

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Surely

SSD ticks all the boxes required for backups? Tape is poop.

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Troll

tape is cheap

$15 for 72 GB

Remember there are lies, damm lies, then statistics

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Anonymous Coward

Check the media prices

Last time I looked LTO3 media (400Gb native) was around £17 per tape and LTO4 (800Gb native) £24 - prices for single tapes but excluding VAT.

if you exclude the cost of the hardware, tape is pretty cheap and still a good option for long term archive use.

15USD would get you something like 300Gb at LTO4 prices, not 72Gb

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Priced out of market

Tape might be $15 for 72GB but what about the drives? A quick Google ("tape backup") fetches back Shopping results of £690.76, £590,04, £1150.33 - haha, yeah right, when I can buy a DVD writer for £28 and DVDs for 35p each (Maplin) or less (10p at Ebuyer).

I'd be happy to use tape backup at home *if* I could get a drive for £30-£40 plus £12/72GB per 72G of tape (providing that's not "only if you buy a gazillion petabytes of the stuff at once, i.e. minimum spend £12million"), but no such solutions exist. They're priced at deep-pocketed businesses with a "tape is the only backup option" policy, which is a rapidly shrinking market.

Tape backup people need to get a real world head on and price themselves back into the market if they want a future.

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