The More Things Change . . .

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You’ve heard the saying "the more things change the more they stay the same." Per Wikipedia this is a "proverb that makes the observation that turbulent changes do not affect reality on a deeper level other than to cement the status quo." I think this describes the backup situation in the Small to Mid-sized Enterprise (SME) environment perfectly. 

There are many backup options available today for both the SME and the larger enterprise including NAS, deduplicaton, Snapshot, VTL, cloud backup and of course Automated Tape Libraries.  The backup needs of a small to mid-size enterprise is essentially the same as those of a large enterprise, however there may be a significant difference in budget and technical expertise available for storage management.  So while there are a variety of storage solutions for backup, with their own pros and cons, the objective of most SME Information Technology departments is to provide effective protection for their company’s data at an affordable price using few technical resources.  This translates into Automated Tape Libraries.

Tape’s portability continues to satisfy long-term retention and disaster recovery requirements. Tape is able to store a lot of data in a very small package and tape drives can deliver sequential transfer speeds that rival the fastest hard disks available. Tape has a much better Bit Error Rate than enterprise disk, 1 bit in every 10E17 bits. That is 40,960 times greater than enterprise disk, which is 1 sector (512 bytes) in 10E16 bits of data transferred.[1]Tape is still significantly less expensive than disk.  The table below compares a typical midrange tape library capable of supporting 1,000 slots, 24 LTO-4 tape drives and 800 cartridges to a typical midrange system consisting of 1TB of SATA drives in a RAID 6 configuration.[2]

The cost of disk vs. tape (1 PB for five years)




Acquisition costs



Operational costs



Warranty (Total five years)



Total power and cooling cost



Total Cost



So while the old adage “Tape is dead” continues to be shouted by some, reality is “Long Live Tape!”

[1] Why Enterprise Tape Can’t Get No Respect                                    Henry Newman – June 17, 2010

[2] – The cost of tape vs disk data backup       Russ Fellows – 04.15.2008