Demystifying LTO-8: Part III

Reading time for this article .

Part three of our “Demystifying LTO-8” blog series covers the process of migrating from older generations of LTO tape technology to LTO-8 and LTO-7 Type M.

Should I migrate data on older generations of media to LTO-8?

  • First consider read/write compatibility:
    • LTO-8 drives will read and write LTO-8 and LTO-7 media.
    • LTO-7 drives will read and write LTO-7 and LTO-6 media and READ LTO-5.
    • LTO-6 drives will read and write LTO-6 and LTO-5 media and READ LTO-4.
    • With the exception of LTO-8, the pattern continues: read/write back one generation, read back two generations.
  • If you consider migration, you should always migrate to the latest generation of LTO technology (i.e. LTO-8 drives and media). Migrating to a lesser version (LTO-7) should only be considered if you are in a space-constrained “emergency,” as it will limit what later generations you will be able to read.
  • Consider whether you could just add a new partition to your library with the latest generation of LTO drives and write new data to that partition on LTO-7 Type M or LTO-8 media, while leaving your existing data on present tapes. Most older generation drives are still available for support and Spectra Certified media has a lifetime warranty. Spectra also maintains limited stock of older generation drives for replacement as needed.
  • Consider if you are space, partition or throughput/drive constrained:
    • If you are out of physical space within your library or data center, consider migrating to the latest generation of LTO technology (LTO-8).
    • If you want to leave older generations as they are but have reached the partition limit for your library, consider either adding another smaller library to your data center for your LTO-8 partition or migrating some of your oldest data to LTO-8.
    • If you need more overall throughput or have reached the drive count limitation for your current library, consider migrating data to LTO-8.
  • Also keep in mind the longevity of your data.
    • If you are required to keep data “forever,”” or it has intrinsic value indefinitely, you should store it on media that is readable within the system you already have.
    • For example, say it’s time to move LTO-4 media. While it is readable by LTO-6 drives, which you can keep in your library for years to come, this is a good time to begin planning for the future. With almost a 16X increase in capacity, a rather large set of LTO-4 tapes can be significantly condensed on LTO-8 tapes, and be readable for another 20 or so years.

Contrary to many storage pundit’s strong warnings, migration is NOT required on a regular basis with tape. While many companies adopt an every-other-generation approach to migration, this is not required as long as you keep some of the previous generation drives in your library to read them. Migrate when you need to, but let Spectra provide consultation on the right time and process for you. We are partners in your digital archive strategy.

How do I migrate data from previous generations?

  • The specific method for migration differs from customer to customer, depending on which ISV software is used to read and write the data, which drives are available for the migration, and the time involved. Spectra Logic provides a focused migration service that includes initial consultation to determine if migration makes sense and, if so, how best to accomplish it without disturbing the production workflow.
    • In many cases a migration strategy will include: 1)Adding tape drives to a system of both the previous and latest generation to add throughput and mount capacity to a system 2) Working out a media purchasing strategy to minimize cost and 3) Planning a monitoring and support structure to both ensure a smooth migration and verify data on the fly.
    • Frequently, ISVs have a built-in mechanism for migration and can handle the orderly move of data to a new tape set. In these cases, a migration consultation is still required to ensure that the process does not disrupt production workflow. As an example, Spectra’s BlackPearl Converged Storage System now has the ability to migrate data to the latest generation of media in a controlled manner.

In part four of the “Demystifying LTO-8” series, we’ll cover Spectra Certified Media and why users should consider implementing it into their data centers. You can find part four and other blogs from the series on our corporate blog page, and by following the hashtag #LTO8FAQ on social media.