The NAB Show in Las Vegas is a super exciting event.  Just getting to see massive 4K HD screens and the way in which the broadcasting industry is pushing data storage technology is really awesome and fun.

At the show, I was talking to a small post production company about our Scalar LTFS and Scalar library solutions for data storage in their workflow, and the editor’s comment was, “This is perfect. This will let us go tapeless.” I totally did a double-take before realizing that he was talking about analog tape. It’s kind of interesting to realize that in the M&E space, they don’t even think about LTO technology as “tape” – which in the IT world is a word that carries a lot of baggage. Instead, they view it like it should be viewed across the industry – as a really good (the best?) storage medium for long-term storage. Tape is reliable, low power, low cooling, and cheap. And the fact that it takes longer to access the first byte of data is just fine for where LTO fits in their workflows; these companies can tolerate waiting some time to retrieve archived data, and that tradeoff is easy compared to a 4x or greater reduction in acquisition and power and cooling costs versus disk.

There’s a lesson here for the broader commercial space and for the datacenter, including cloud datacenters (which are mostly just like any other datacenters, just bigger). For any company that has a massive amount of unstructured data, tape may be a great solution to archive that data, given its reliability and associated lower costs. And now, with LTFS technology, tape libraries can be accessed via a CIFS or NFS interface – making it super easy to get files onto tape in a way that makes it convenient for users to retrieve that data in the future.

So stop worrying about “going tapeless” – think about the characteristics of the different storage mediums out there, and think of tape like a “black box.”  It is cheap, high latency storage, with low power and cooling usage. Sounds like a good storage technology for any data that is more than weeks old that still has value.

If you think about using tape in your workflows, you may just find it can substantially reduce your primary storage costs. Have examples of this? Totally disagree? Tell me what you think.

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