M y sincerest thanks to Christophe Bertrand, a Senior Analyst at ESG, for his recent video that drops a few fascinating factoids from ESG’s 2018 Data Protection Landscape survey. The survey echoes my own observations as a member of organizations that care about such things, including the LTO Consortium, the Active Archive Alliance, and Quantum’s product marketing and product management team. Here’s a quick recap:

1)    Tape is holding a steady share of enterprise backup data

According to ESG, more than half of enterprises currently using tape as a target for data protection will continue their use of tape for this purpose, and possibly increase it. This is likely because tape has some compelling values for which it is arguably the best choice. Tape is great for storing an offline gold copy of data that is immutable because it’s air gapped, and tape remains the low-cost champion for storing data when compared to any alternative that can deliver the same durability or throughput performance.

2)    Backup data storage is shifting from disk to cloud

Darwin’s Law of Data Storage holds that, as new technology use cases are developed, the old standard suffers a horrible death. Some 20 years ago tape, was actively used for workstation backup and recording for datasets that were MBs and GBs in size. Show me the engineer that is doing that today and I will show you the last of a dying breed. That job done by tape has gone to external drives, or network and cloud storage. If you heard the mantra “tape is dead,” it is this low-capacity, single-user environment where tape suffered that fate. It’s déjà vu all over again. This time, disk is dead. As smaller environments are discovering that cloud can cost-effectively serve the needs previously dominated by disk for data protection, the convenience and cost of cloud has compelled more disk backup users to shift that data to cloud.

3)    Tape emerges as a key technology – again

Just as we found new roles for disk to play in deduplicated data protection over the past 20 years, we’ve found new roles for tape to play in cloud storage. As cloud providers have gained tremendous scale, new technologies that federate large pools of tape storage are delivering substantial economic benefits to cloud providers – and because of this, tape has emerged as a key technology for the new cloud-based world. Christophe suggests this in his conclusion.

The battleground for massive scale storage is now being waged between cloud providers and the enterprise data center. What I find most curious is the notion that these are different. As the adage suggests, “Cloud is just someone else’s data center.” Because of that, the technologies that are enabling the cloud to offer powerful solutions are getting packaged for the data center. In the end, enterprises will have a true choice of public cloud versus private cloud. Either way – tape wins.

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