The Role of Tape Storage in a Tiered Backup Strategy

The rise of big data, business analytics and stricter compliance regulations necessitate that enterprises retain far more data than ever before. Against this backdrop, disk and cloud-based backup implementations are scaling quickly. In fact, many enterprises are dealing with secondary storage repositories that are ten times larger than their production storage repositories.

Especially for large enterprises with diverse data stores, tiered backup strategies are critical to meeting recovery service level agreements (SLAs) without breaking the bank; not all data is mission-critical to recover immediately in the event of an incident, and thus can live on a less expensive storage media. As discussed in the video below, tape storage media is often perceived as a viable fit only for archive and long-term retention use cases today, but it can also play an important role in the backup hierarchy.

Most organizations retain their backup data for five to seven years, but the vast majority (and arguably nearly all) of recoveries happen within the first ten days of a backup occurring. Backup data that was created outside of this window is not typically held to the quick turnaround recovery time objectives (RTO) required for more recently created data; it might only be required for a discovery request or other specific need. Consequently, migrating older backup data to tape can cut the cost of the backup storage environment substantially.

Tape media is inherently denser and lower-priced than disk alternatives. It is arguably even less expensive than public cloud backup storage services, which can scale significantly in cost as organizations store growing volumes of data over time, and when egress fees for recovering data are considered. It also uses less power than disk storage media, further driving down the total cost of ownership. In following the rule of thumb that most recoveries occur from the most recent backup, an enterprise might cut down on their disk storage capacity requirements by nearly two-thirds through tiering older copies to tape. Furthermore, backing data up to two discrete types of storage media helps to prevent against malware.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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