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Johnson & Johnson Set To Go Tapeless By Early 2019

It may come as a surprise to some that tape-based backup is still in use today, but the cost-effectiveness and reliability of these systems means they’re still a viable option for many enterprises. That said, there is a concerted effort to move away from such traditional forms of data backup and archival in favor of next-gen solutions in cloud servers and data centers around the globe.

Tapeless By 2019

A countless number of companies have already announced their own plans to update their backup framework, and many have followed through. One of the most recent companies, Johnson & Johnson, or J&J, has recently committed to converting their enterprise data centers – which currently utilize tape-based backup systems – to next-gen infrastructure.

Their self-imposed timeline for the transition – which gives them until mid-2019 to complete – has another purpose, too. Not only is it meant to upgrade their systems for long-term archival well into the future, but its part of a company-wide migration to the software-defined data center (SDCC) model.

Frank Floyd, ITS senior manager with SDDC global core infrastructure services, backup and recoverability, spoke about J&J’s previous, tape-based model by saying: “We would back up, we’d go to a (NetBackup) media server, we would send it off to a Quantum tape library using LTO-type tapes, and then we’d use Iron Mountain and send it offsite. That worked well for a while, but it doesn’t work well for quick onsite recovery given that we have to recall every single tape and wait hours and hours for Iron Mountain to find the tape, send it back to us, find the onsite person to get it in the tape library, etc.”

Believe it or not, J&J had been 100% reliant on that model up until 2014. It wasn’t until they introduced advanced EMC hardware that they were able to achieve a rating of 97% tapeless – a point that they’ve enjoyed thus far.

Floyd continued his statement by saying: “There’s a few legacy systems that still run tape,” and: “I have 36 tape drives as the only thing remaining, and I hope to get rid of them in the next 18 months.”

His job isn’t an easy one. The process of archiving 36 tape drives in a year-and-a-half is enough to make the most experienced IT professionals cringe. Complicating matters even further is the scale of the J&J enterprise – this isn’t exactly a small, startup company we’re talking about – but both Floyd and J&J remain optimistic about achieving their goal and experiencing all that the tapeless format has to offer.

Weighing the Risks and Rewards of Going Tapeless

Despite the sophistication of current-gen technology, there are still some risks associated with the tapeless model. Issues with transferring data and even maintaining data over a long-term basis still exist, as do concerns with operational costs and system performance. Nonetheless, more and more enterprises are willing to brave the risks associated with tapeless data archival – it’s undoubtedly the way of the future.


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