The use of tape as a primary target for backup has supposedly changed in large part due to the onslaught of new disk-based backup solutions with many features that are enticing data centers to change course. One could even say that vendors and analysts have abandoned tape for greener pastures by seeking to associate themselves with disk’s sexier features–all the while forgetting about tape’s evolving role within the data center.
Interestingly enough, and food for thought, are the recent survey results from Fleishman-Hillard Research, which suggests that most companies surveyed are actually migrating to a tiered storage infrastructure of disk and tape. In fact, over two-thirds of the disk-only users in the survey are looking to add tape back into their storage infrastructure.
Cindy Grossman, Vice President of Tape Storage Systems for IBM, said it best in the report when she commented that the integration of tape storage into a tiered information infrastructure is highly strategic for customers, due to its low cost of ownership, low energy consumption and portability for data protection. She adds, “LTO tape technology is a perfect choice for enterprise and mid-sized customers with its proven reliability, high capacity, high performance and ability to address data security.”
But that said, I was still slightly shocked when Overland Storage approached DCIG to give us an update on its commitment to tape. Like other vendors, Overland hasn’t discussed its tape line in a while. When you look at the NEO family, it has not changed significantly in the last seven years. But after a few minutes, it was clear that Overland still had its finger on the pulse of this market.
Overland reminded me that IDC sees the mid-range tape market as a $1.3 billion market. Even if IDC is off by 30 percent, it’s still a vibrant, healthy market and one that Overland intends to remain in.
To try to understand where it should take its tape line going forward, Overland talked to end-users, partners and analysts about the future for tape, which features they thought they needed, what was happening in their data centers as well as which server technologies and trends they were seeing that might translate into features for new tape products.
Overland also wanted to know about the value of tape’s scalability and serviceability as well as extending its capabilities. After talking with end-users, partners and analysts, it was evident to Overland that the tape community was alive and well and wanted to see an ongoing commitment to tape. One message that did catch Overland’s attention and came through in the feedback it received was that the company is still one of the top vendors that people think of when they think of tape storage.
No one should assume that just because they don’t read about tape technologies or get solutions pushed from vendors that tape isn’t still deeply ingrained within many data centers and that there is not still innovation going on. There is. Unfortunately, innovation in tape does not always capture front page headlines, which can make news hard to find.
Overland assured me it has neither lessened its commitment to tape storage nor forsaken the vast number of customers using tape in their environments. Overland did, however, firmly convey to me that it understands the importance of getting out there and showing innovation in this market to prove to people that tape is still very much alive and that the company intends to continue to have a story to tell in this area.