The debate between tape-based backup and modern storage solutions will likely continue for quite some time. With some diehards and veterans sticking to their guns, which are, albeit, rather useful in certain scenarios, experts in the new school would prefer to take advantage of next-gen technology wherever possible.
Both have their pros and cons. While the newer methods of storage – including cloud and flash storage options – are certainly quicker. They're also highly reliable and easily accessible. Moreover, there's virtually no maintenance associated with cloud-based storage – at least not on your end. All of those responsibilities are left up to the service provider.
Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and analyst with Gartner, summed about current cloud offerings simply by saying: "Line-of-business leaders everywhere are bypassing IT departments to get applications from the cloud and paying for them like they would a magazine subscription. And when the service is no longer required, they can cancel that subscription with no equipment left unused in the corner."
With tape backup, however, there are some rather stringent maintenance standards. Not only does the medium require protection from dust and dirt, but it also needs to be properly labeled, tested, and archived. All of this handling makes it even more prone to damage or data corruption.
Tape backup is actually quite reliable on a long-term basis. Most tapes have a lifetime of up to 30 years in ideal conditions, meaning they rarely need to be replaced, and they remain one of the most inexpensive storage options for long-term archival and backup.
Modern tapes and the associated hardware are also less prone to hardware failure or malfunction. Once the data has been written, the tape is typically labeled and stored on a shelf for weeks, months, or years. This is in contrast to the hardware required in a disk-based backup system or the network infrastructure of today's cloud environments.
There is also the issue of accessibility. Although today's cloud services are highly accessible, even through mobile devices like smartphones and laptops, many enterprises already have tape equipment on-premises. In cases like this, it might be more cost-effective to stick with the equipment that's already there as opposed to tapping into the cloud.
Matt Burr, general manager of FlashBlade with Pure Storage, spoke about the need for fast data recovery in the event of an emergency. He was quoted as saying: "In today’s ultra-competitive environment, organizations need every advantage possible to ensure they get the most value out of their data. That means fast recovery to ensure data is back in production use as quickly as possible — modern organizations simply cannot afford to wait days or weeks."
As you can see, there are pros and cons of both. While today's cloud servers are touted for the speed, accessibility, and efficiency, it's hard to beat the reliability, trustworthiness, and cost-effectiveness of tape-based backup. In the end, it all comes down to your specific requirements, what you prefer, and what your IT team recommends.
Should We Replace Tape-Based Backup with Cloud and Flash Storage?
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