T he LTO Program announced yet another record year for LTO capacity shipments in 2017, with more than 108,000 PB of total compressed capacity shipped. That represents a 13% annual increase over 2016 and more than double the capacity shipped just four years ago, in 2013.

Some may be wondering what the heck is going on. Didn’t everyone get the memo that tape is dead? Disk, flash and cloud technologies have made tape obsolete, right? Well, not quite…

While much has changed for IT infrastructure, tape’s role has changed, too. Still, its unique value proposition remains strong. So, what’s behind the continued growth in tape storage?

Here are a few drivers we’re seeing at Quantum:

  • It’s a hybrid world, and that means the best solutions integrate a combination of storage technologies to meet use case requirements such as performance, capacity, scale, access, security and, of course, cost.
  • Said another way, it’s not ______ (pick a technology) versus tape, it’s often ______ (pick a technology) plus tape.
  • Tape has the lowest $/TB cost of any storage technology – including cloud – which increases tape’s value as the volume of data under management grows.
  • Tape’s “air gap” feature provides the best defense against malware and ransomware attacks. As these attacks grow in sophistication, targeting backup as well as primary storage assets, it’s becoming critical to keep data offline, not just offsite.
  • Hands-free tape. That’s right. With a data copy offsite (on tape or another technology), removing tapes from the library may not be necessary. Unique Quantum features supporting this use case ensure tapes remain healthy over the long term and minimizes costs of “in-library vaulting.”
  • What storage technology do you think enables cloud archive services? Yes, cloud storage is a large contributor to the continued growth of tape technology.

So, how tape is deployed has changed…and we see that every day at Quantum. As the number of ransomware attacks increase – because they are making money – and both the volume and value of data continues to grow, tape’s value remains strong. That is precisely why we continue to invest in tape at Quantum.

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