Never Underestimate the Role of Magnetic Tape in Big Data

Magnetic Tape is said to be one of the oldest data storage mediums if we rummage through the history of computer data storage. But as today, we are getting entrenched into the big data era so it is important for us to know what role each and every storage medium would play in big data?

Big Data
Big Data

After having postulated on the question at hand, it could be said that one should never underestimate the role of backup tape in the recent era. An era in which it had been declared dead since 2 or 3 decades that magnetic tape is dead and it is destined to be a part of heaps of debris.

But hey…look at today, data tape is still going strong and it is said to have a substantial role to play in the big data storage. As we know that data generation is increasing twofold with each passing year; making people concerned about the future of big data.  We need to understand that major chunk of big data is that kind of data which is cold and hence, needed to be stored for longer period of time and that’s when magnetic tape backup comes into play by exerting its potential of storing large amount of cold data in a better way. Due to this reason, the sales of data tapes has increased by 1% in 2012 and this year the growth is expected to be at 3%.

Role of Magnetic Tape in Big Data
Role of Magnetic Tape in Big Data

Furthermore, data tape has striking advantages over hard disks for long term preservation of data as mentioned by Alberto Pace – Head of data & Storage at CERN

  • Once you have uploaded data tape on a reader then it is four time faster than hard disks in data extraction
  • When magnetic tape snaps; it brings in the loss of few hundred MBs while on the other end, when a hard disk fails then all your data get lost too.

“The consequence at CERN, specifically, is that a few hundred megabytes of its 100 petabyte tape repository are lost every year. Of the 50 petabytes of data held on hard disk, however, it loses a few hundred terabytes in the same period”

  • Data tape does not rely on power to preserve data whilst trickle downs in electricity rev up the possibility of hard disk failure
  • If a hacker breaks in your repository of data then data stored on hard disks can be removed in moments whilst the data on tape would take years to remove completely

“If a hacker with a grudge managed to break into CERN’s data centre, he could delete all 50 petabytes of the disk-held data in minutes. To delete the same amount from the organisation’s tapes would take years”

Moreover, Evangelos Eleftheriou – Manager of storage technologies at IBM’s research laboratory in Zurich further mentioned two more benefits of data tapes:

  1. Backup tape is cheaper than disk regardless of the fact that the prices of hard disks are on decline
  2. Data Tape lasts longer so it is a good mean to preserve your cold data

He further said that, magnetic tape backup can never be a whole answer when it comes to the data storage but it has a critical part to play in storage hierarchy which is comprised of hot data, Lukewarm data and cold data:

  • Hot data – put it in flash
  • Lukewarm data – put it on hard disks
  • Cold data (which is also a major part of your whole data) – data tape is best

“A report published in 2008 by Andrew Leung of the University of California, Santa Cruz, found that in general 90% of an organization’s data become cold after a couple of months”

In 2010 Dr Eleftheriou and his team along with Fuji successfully demonstrated a tape with density of 29 GB of data per square inch which in other words means 35TB on a single cartridge. However, he says that data generation is too much every year and therefore, we need to do much more to preserve and match that amount of data. Hence, he has been working on creating a tape of 100GB square per inch density which would be able to store more than 100TB. He is confident to be ready
for a demo of this tape in 2014. Meantime, he has been also working on the speed of reading and writing heads of this tape in order to make his brain child work perfectly well.

Feel free to contact ODSI to get latest data tapes in UK. Moreover, you can also contact us in case of any information and query about your storage requirements.

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