As data volumes continue to grow at a mindboggling rate, many organizations are concerned about the performance and availability of their mission-critical, Tier 1 storage. In some industry sectors, however, cost-efficient data archival is also a high priority. This is particularly true for organizations that must store large amounts of audio/video (A/V) data, as well as for big data analytics and Internet of Things applications.

In those environments, tape remains the medium of choice for long-term data storage. The cost per gigabyte of tape is a fraction of the cost of disk, and tape drives come with lower operational, maintenance and energy costs. In 2016, Enterprise Strategy Group completed a 10-year total cost of ownership (TCO) study of Linear Tape Open (LTO), disk and hybrid disk/cloud architectures. The 10-year cost of tape was less than $2.5 million, while the cost of disk was almost $17 million and hybrid disk/cloud almost $14 million.

LTO is a scalable and adaptable open tape format developed and continuously enhanced by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), IBM and Quantum to address the growing demands of data protection in midsize and enterprise IT environments. LTO Ultrium tape storage products deliver outstanding performance, capacity and reliability, combining the advantages of linear multi-channel, bi-directional formats with enhancements in servo-technology, data compression, track layout and error correction.

The current generation of LTO tape technology, LTO-7, provides compressed data capacity of up to 15TB, delivers compressed data transfer rates of up to 750MB per second and costs less than a penny per gigabyte. And now the LTO Program has finalized the specifications for LTO Ultrium generation 8, and released a new technology roadmap detailing specifications up to generation 12.

The new LTO-8 specification provides up to 30TB of compressed data storage per cartridge, and compressed data transfer rates of up to 900MB per second. LTO-8 will continue to include features introduced in previous generations, including hardware-based encryption and WORM (write-once-read-many) functionality for multilayer security.

Like previous generations, LTO-8 will support partitioning functionality that enables the use of the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) format. LTFS makes it possible view of directory listing of files stored on tape, and drag and drop files to tape as with any other drive on the network. This capability transforms tape from a backup and archival medium to a more active component of the data storage environment.

The development of the LTO-8 specification involved a transition to a new recording technology that supports future capacity growth. As a result, LTO-8 is only backward compatible with LTO-7 cartridges. However, customers who purchase new LTO-7 cartridges will be able to take advantage of a new initialization feature that increases capacity by up to 50 percent. New LTO-7 cartridges initialized as LTO-8 Type M media will be able to store up to 22.5TB of data.

The LTO Ultrium format has a well-defined roadmap for growth and scalability. Slated for availability sometime in 2020, LTO Ultrium generation 12 tape cartridges will be able to store up to 480TB of data — 32 times the capacity of today’s LTO-7 cartridges.

Rahi Systems offers LTO solutions from HP, Fuji, Quantum and IBM through its new A/V practice. Tape is the most popular platform for A/V storage due to its high capacity, cost-efficiency and 30-year lifespan. Let us help you determine if the latest LTO products have a role to play in your storage environment.


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