If you thought that MSP technology was heading towards a purely disk-based future, then think again. Research scientists at Sony Media Storage Solutions recently set their sixth world record for tape storage. This new technology is set to cement tape as the archive medium of choice.
The new record for storage is a staggering 201Gb per square inch. This is more than 20 times the areal density in current commercial tape drives. 330 TB of uncompressed data on the new tape can fit into the palm of your hand.
An Opportunity to Lower Archiving Costs
Vast amounts of data are produced daily on cloud services and customers increasingly look to store records of their business activity for indefinite periods. Storing ever-growing amounts of data on disk-based systems is expensive though.
Even before the latest breakthrough lowered the cost further, archiving data on tape was around 3.5 times cheaper than using disks for backup. However, that number, reported by Tech Target, was based on storing 1 PB for five years. Taking the 20-year lifecycle of tapes into account, it’s easy to imagine that the real cost difference is even greater.
Overcoming Your Resistance to Tapes
Advocating for tape is preaching against the gospel as far as some MSPs are concerned. MSP technology solutions have grown up with the unstoppable seeming wave of improvements in disk technology. Meanwhile, many IT pros still cringe at thought of tapes, plagued with memories of bad experiences. However, tape offers additional advantages to MSPs beyond ongoing cost reductions.
Data Loss Prevention
Despite the way MSPs use data-security as a selling point, a large percentage of organisations that use cloud storage have suffered a recovery failure. If it’s your company losing a customer’s data, then your reputation suffers.
This failure rate is one reason larger companies are still often reluctant to rely on the cloud, preferring to use tapes on-premise.
In 2011, when Gmail famously went down for three days, they only managed to restore the system because of their tape archive. Since then, the company has been using custom-manufactured tapes to archive its data.
Cost of Transfer
It’s cheaper for your customers to ship you large tape archives than it is to transfer the data through the wire. This lower cost of entry can be a selling point for companies with archived data, who are reluctant to switch.
It can also convince those companies who care about the reliability of tape-archives to do business with you, rather than maintaining their own systems. They have the comfort of knowing that you can always put the tapes in a truck and return them.
Don’t Get Caught Out
If you don’t take advantage of the cost saving the new tape technology promises, you can be sure some of your competitors will. If they pass those savings onto customers, you’ll soon find yourself playing catch up.
Since customers aren’t looking to access this data regularly anyway, they’re not using the main advantage that disks have over tape: speed of data recovery. As a result, most of your customers won’t notice or care how you archive the data. What they will care about is the lower price you can quote them.
This is a strategy major players are taking advantage of. For example, Amazon Web Services archive service, Glacier, is largely tape-based.
How You Can Take Advantage of Tape
- Identify archival data that customers aren’t accessing regularly and begin migrating it to tape.
- Offer clients a specific, lower rate for your cold-storage services vs. frequent usage.
- Inform new leads that they’re able to ship their existing tape archives to you, by arrangement.
- Advertise the data-security advantages of tapes.
This approach will allow you to leap ahead of slower moving competitors, as customers will be drawn to your lower prices and increased flexibility. Prospects who learn the advantages of tapes from you will also be wary of signing-up with MSPs who offer only disk-based archiving.
Tapes will be a presence in MSP technology for the foreseeable future. If you can get over your reluctance, you can use new tape technologies to lower your costs and give yourself a competitive advantage.