Two years after its inception, the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) is the tape hardware industry's best hope to claim a piece of the tape software interface and repair the damage done by decades of proprietary and hard-to-use backup software. We've all heard that "tape is dying" from the various disk array vendors, while others …
The part that hurts
Is the cost of tape drives.
There's a threshold of storage before tape is viable (Don't bother with anything other than LTO, they're all crap, especially DAT which is ubercrap) and that's somewhere north of 50Tb.
I love my Neo8000 at work, but backups to disk are the rule fo the day at home. It's just a matter of practicality.
What amazes me is that noone's produced a HSM system based on LTFS and a few Tb of disk as cache (Kind of like "rombrain" on steroids.) It's not just for backups.
Re: The part that hurts
Re: The part that hurts
you should look at Crossroads.com they have a shared storage LTFS solution that is not just for backup. They also have an HSM that writes to it or you can use any 3rd party hsm.
LTFS should have specified a bit of flash storage used for the metadata that lives on the tape cartridge itself and some way to read/write to it (i.e. a connection that gets made when the cartridge is in the drive) This would add very little cost but add a lot of speed and flexibility.
Newer Ultrium versions and autoloaders...
The reasons that tape still dominates most backup scenarios:
* The drives and autoloaders aren't that expensive really - about the cost of a typical low-end server (2-3 grand), despite what one poster said. The cost of tapes is perhaps actually a little high (especially when you have to buy 30+ of them in one go).
* The Ultrium standard has been getting faster and higher capacity with each generation, so we're getting to the point where you can backup quite a lot of servers across the network on just one tape (though you still want an autoloader if you want weekend backups or your backups use 2 tapes a day).
* You can physically take the completed backup tapes to an offsite safe in case disaster recovery is needed (main machine room explodes or whatever).
For me, backups to disks *only* work sensibly if you have a high speed (gigabit preferably) Net link to another location where you actually keep the servers with those disks (i.e. a DR location). You can't just backup to a big-disk server that's in the same machine room as the one the servers are in because your backups will be non-existent if the machine room explodes and there's your business dead in the water.
I think it's the cost for an SME of setting up a DR location with a server and a load of big disks is why tapes still rule the roost. And if you want to be really safe, you'd need at least dual-homing too between your main site and the DR so that you can always get at your backups at the remote location. All of this costs time and money to set up.
Re: Newer Ultrium versions and autoloaders...
Little tip: add a physical drive to your offline storage. We once had a fire in a data centre, and although our backup site picked up exactly as it should, it left us with no remaining redundancy until we had an alternative up.
At which point we discovered the drive we were using was unobtainable for 2 weeks..
Since then we crate up a tested tape drive in the same storage area, and the thing gets tested every year (used to be every 6 months, but it appears our approach to crating it up was good enough). We have upgraded drives recently, and that creates another benefit: we still have one of the older drives so we can access archives until we have all of that spooled over onto the new format.
I recently upgraded to LTO-5 from LTO-2
and I absolutely love it - I can (in theory) backup up to 3TB of data without having to change tapes.
Given that I've only accumulated 500GB of data over the last 25 years, the unit is good for at least another 5 years.
Energy is the key
One day in the not too distant future there will be extra tax on unnecessary energy use. Data centres full of spinning disks that might not been accessed for years will be fighting for a place in the queue to buy the latest tape solution.
no need for a tax
The power bill is enough all by itself, thanks.
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