In the era of Cloud and Big Data, the opportunities for the modest LTO tape could appear limited. However recent figures show that tape usage is at an all-time high. LTO tapes have a lot on offer; they are cost effective, scalable, reliable and portable. Since LTO-1 tapes hit the market in 2000, supply chain records attest to their market success with 5 million LTO tape drives and over 250 million tape cartridges delivered.
The phenomenal success of LTO is set to continue despite new technology trends, largely due to a growing ecosystem of Linear Tape File Systems (LTFS) based solutions and continuing collaboration in the industry driving efficiency and innovation. Recent research by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) found that 82% of tape-users intend to maintain or increase tape usage for long-term retention.
With the explosion of Big Data, LTO remains a critical component for the modern data centre. Data-intensive markets such as media and entertainment, scientific research, oil and gas exploration, surveillance, cloud and HPC are major users. LTOs continue to offer the lowest cost solution for long-term data retention and reliable retrieval.
The limitation of the emerging cloud based services is that retrieval is not cost effective for some businesses. These services are designed for smaller data sets where retrieval requirements are minimal to zero. The economies of cloud-based versus on premise are highly dependent on particular storage and access requirements.
The collaboration between LTO technology providers remains strong. As a result, the unique open format licensed across the storage industry ensures broad compatibility. The LTO technology roadmap has recently expanded to 10 generations (Gen 10). Gen 10 capacities are greatly enhanced and targeted to reach 120TB compressed in a single cartridge. Along with huge leaps in capacity, Gen 10 transfer rates of around 2,750 MB/sec compressed are expected, an enormous increase on Gen 1’s 40MB/sec.
Each new generation includes read-and-write backwards compatibility with the prior generation as well as read compatibility with cartridges from two generations prior to protect investments and ease tape conversion and implementation.