Why tape technology continues to be FAR-OUT, and other observations from SNW

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I attended Storage Networking World Fall 2009 in Scottsdale, AZ earlier this week.   Here are a few of my observations.

The SNW conference was held at the Scottsdale Marriot Desert Ridge Resort which is the location of the Wildfire Golf Club (one of my favorite  golf courses).    Fortunately, I was able to resist the temptation to golf and attended several sessions, attended the trade show and also presented at the conference.    The hot topics of the conference included virtualization, cloud computing, deduplication and security.   As I caught up on email during breaks in the lobby near multiple racks of disk arrays, I was reminded of another ‘hot’ topic – green storage.     I also attended speech by inventor and visionary Ray Kurzweil on the exponential growth of information technology.  His speech was very inspirational about the postive impact of information technology growth on the human condition.  Although inspired, the backup and storage administrators with whom I spoke were also challenged by the daunting task of how to keep up with this tremendous data growth.
As I prepared for my presentation on “Tape Without Pain”, I was pleased that Spectra Logic has solutions to address many of these challenges with our Spectra TSeries Libraries which offer scalability, easy-to-use library management and encryption along with high efficiency (both in terms of space and energy utilization).   Spectra’s nTier Deduplication disk solutions also offer solutions to assist with many of the data growth challenges through high performance, scalability, replication and seamless ties to tape.   As I delivered the presentation, I was pleasantly surprised by the high percentage of tape users in the audience.  There were no hecklers and I was largely preaching to the choir.   The audience resonated with the presentation’s claim that tape will continue F.A.R. into future since it is:
a)      Fast – Transfer rates up to 240MB/sec with LTO-4 make it plenty fast for backup and archive solutions.
b)      Affordable – Low acquisition costs, low operating costs (power & cooling), and low upgrade costs.
c)       Reliable – On-going improvements in drives, libraries and media make it a very reliable backup solution.
The audience also highlighted several other reasons they will continue to use tape.
d)      Reliable portability – Tape offers true backup portability to an off-site location – which is required for business continuity and disaster recovery.
e)      Bandwidth TCO – While deduplication with replication is a solid solution for offsite backups, OC-3 lines are not free.  Nothing matches the bandwidth and affordability of a truck with LTO tapes.
f)       Investment protection – The LTO roadmap along with backwards compatibility make tape a much better solution for long-term backup and archive applications.
As I left Scottsdale, I made a final stop to say goodbye to one of my temptresses.   Unfortunately, she was not open for business.  The sign on the front door said: "TPC Stadium Course closed for overseeding Oct 12 to Oct 18."
Looks like I made the right choice by attending the SNW conference.