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LTO-5 and Disk-based Backup

HP recently announced the availability of LTO-5 and they are currently hosting industry luminaries at their HP Storage Day. I received a question on Twitter from John Obeto about LTO-5 and what it means to VTL and wanted to answer it here. Note that I previously blogged about LTO-5.

The challenge with data protection is ensuring that you meet your backup and recovery requirements, and most companies have fixed SLAs. The advent of LTO-5’s larger tape sizes is nice, but tape size is not the problem, the issue is real world performance. Quantum’s LTO-5 specification suggests maximum performance of 140 MB/sec which is an impressive statistic, but in practice few end users achieve this. The challenge is even greater when you think about minimum required transfer rates as discussed in my fallacy of faster tape post

Disk-based backup provides the ideal solution to address nightly backup and recovery challenges. A disk-based target will provide variable ingest speeds and can accept data as slow as the source will push it. The disk targets also allow for fast recoveries and will accelerate the process of creating LTO-5 tapes for long-term archive or DR. However, remember that the higher speeds of LTO-5 put a premium on recovery performance and so you should carefully review any disk-based solution to ensure that it can stream your LTO-5 drives.

LTO-5 is an evolutionary tape technology. It provides higher density and improved performance specifications, but the actual performance gains are less clear due to streaming challenges. LTO-5 is ideal for long-term archive or long-term DR applications where you need dense, portable and low cost storage and have infrequent access requirements. Conversely, disk-based backup is optimal for day-to-day backup operations due to the improved speed, reliability and deduplication. In summary, I believe that disk and tape are complementary backup technologies and the LTO-5 announcement further cements tape’s positioning as an ideal archive target..

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