Free Disk? No Thanks

This morning I am flying to New York City to attend Fujifilm’s 6th Annual Global IT Executive Summit. The theme of this year’s event is, “into Tomorrow with Tape Technology, Preserving and Protecting Critical Data”. This is a data protection event grounded in the reality. Tape is not dead, it is alive and has a bright future. Data centers that ignore tape technology do so at their own peril.

I understand for an analyst firmly planted in the storage industry, that is a strong statement. As I will discuss at the summit, I believe that even if disk were free you’d still want tape. I’m not a anti-disk guy or even an anti-cloud guy. I am a believer in the old adage, “everything in moderation”.

Unstructured data is growing out of control and the expectations of 100% recovery are at an all time high. This places new demands on the protection and archive processes. At the same time, IT budgets are flat. Putting all protected or archived data on disk or in the cloud is not practical for most organizations. Most simply can’t afford it.

When I make that statement, I don’t win friends in the disk and cloud community. Again, these technologies have a role but you should not be putting all your eggs into their baskets. It is not safe and not a wise use of IT budget.

Which brings me to the heart of my presentation: “Even if Disk Were Free, You’d Still Want Tape”. Disk has one significant advantage over tape, it can get to the first bit of data faster. Disk vendors have also done a remarkable job overcoming disks’ biggest disadvantage; price. Tape is still more affordable but disk is closing the gap. The increased capacity per spindle combined with deduplication and compression narrows the price delta.

As I will discuss in that presentation, even if disk became cheaper than tape, to the point of being free, you’d still want tape. Why? There is a series of “taxes” with disk that doesn’t get talked about. The cost of the storage system combined with power, cooling and data center floor space consumption, all add to the cost of disk. There is also the cost of data protection, RAID capacity consumption and RAID rebuilds being two of the biggest.

The fact is, data is growing and recovery expectations are higher than ever. Meeting these demands means using every tool at your disposal; disk, cloud and yes, even tape. Using it can drive down the cost of both retention and backup. It can also improve an organization’s ability to recover from a greater variety of disasters.

Based in Dallas? The next location for our presentation, “Even If Disk Were Free You’d Still Want Tape”, will be at the Data Protection Associations’ annual conference in Dallas Texas. Our keynote will not only include why you would still want tape but how to best integrate tape into the environment.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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2 comments on “Free Disk? No Thanks
  1. […] ‘Free Disk? No Thanks’ by George Crump on Storage Swiss. As he prepares to fly to Fujifilm’s IT Summit, he mentions that even if disk was free, there are still reasons to choose tape over disk.  One of the greatest benefit of tape is that it is cheap, and not only cheaper compared to disk, but less costly for your data center because it doesn’t require additional fees like heating, cooling, rackspace, etc. […]

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