Physical Tape

Musings on the Spectra Logic T-Finity Announcement

Last week Spectra Logic unveiled the T-Finity, a new high-end tape library that is one of the largest and most scalable units in the industry.  The system can grow to 30,000 tape slots and 480 drives and it creates some interesting questions.

As data backup and recovery SLAs have become more stringent, end users have migrated rapidly to disk-based technologies.  Deduplication also adds value by reducing $/GB and required disk capacity although the technology can negatively impact backup and recovery performance.  These two trends have combined to reduce the requirements for physical tape and many tape vendors are seeing declining revenues.  This is not to say that tape is dead, it is very much in use and will be for the foreseeable future, but the use model has changed.  Physical tape is typically used for very long-term data archival where multi-year retention is not uncommon.

Backup Deduplication Restore

Deduplication, do I really need it?

I’m always puzzled when a customer tells me that they “need deduplication to run my backups better.” This drives me nuts. Deduplication in and of itself doesn’t make your backups run better. In fact some technologies make backups and restores take a lot longer. These customers aren’t really thinking about the root causes of their problems. They are like patients who see an ad for a prescription medication on TV and decide they need some. When the doctor asks why, the response is “because the ad sounded like something that will make me feel better.” Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Well, that is no different from the dedupe statement above.

The simple reality is that, like the prescription drugs on TV, dedupe is not a silver bullet. It solves specific problems such as retention and reduction in $/GB. If that is your problem, then by all means please look at dedupe. But please, understand the problem you are trying to solve. Trust me, you don’t want to be the guy taking the drugs just because they sound good on TV.