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When tape becomes mission critical: A white paper. (Tape/Disk/Optical Storage).

The data storage industry typically thinks of disk storage as the sole repository for mission critical data. In most circumstances this is true. However, when mission critical data on disk can't be accessed for any of a growing number of reasons, the primary source of the mission critical data most often switches to tape storage. At this point, tape becomes mission critical.


The magnetic tape industry is beginning its third era since the first successful tape drive appeared in 1952. After 35 years of manual tape operations and 15 years of automated robotic tape handling, the tape industry is moving into the era of intelligent tape. Now a $7 billion and growing worldwide market including drives, media and automated libraries, the tape industry has more than a dozen different recording formats and nearly 15 automated tape library suppliers. Over 80 percent of the world's digital data is stored on removable storage, most of which is on magnetic tape technology. Tape cartridge capacities are targeted to surpass two terabytes in five years given currently identified recording density improvements. The automated tape market revenues are expected to grow between 5 and 10 percent annually through 2005 as disaster recovery issues and archival data requirements mount. Many new digital applications are beginning to take advantage of the new ultra-high tape capacities, throughput rates, and features. Embedded disk caching, tape arrays, logical WORM (write-once-read-many), and more intelligent cartridges provide large-capacity automated tape storage reservoirs typically at less than one-fourth to one-tenth the cost of magnetic disk storage. Tape remains the primary data recovery technology for data centers worldwide.

A Critical Component

Often overlooked and taken for granted in the tape industry and one of the most critical components of any automated tape library is the machine readable, bar coded tape label. This high-resolution, state-of-the-art media identification system sits in the critical path of any data access or recovery action from an automated tape library. Tape labels have evolved to address the increasing role of tape storage. What if the label can't be read? If the tape label can't be read, the data can't be restored and the value of losing access to this data can be enormous for most businesses.

Recent data indicates that 44 percent of data loss is caused by either hardware or systems failure, 32 percent is caused by human error, and 14 percent from software and program error. What is the potential impact of not being able to recover data from a tape cartridge that contains critical data? The value in terms of lost revenue for an hour's outage for selected applications is listed in the chart at the bottom of the page.

Not All Tape Labels are Created Equal

Tape cartridge labels contain a very precise barcode that has been carefully engineered by the tape library manufacturers to ensure a "first time -- every time" read of the cartridge.

This level of precision is now mandatory given the increasing value of digital data and requires the highest resolution computer-generated bar codes possible that also carry a lifetime guarantee. Presently, the most reliable and safest way to obtain these tape library manufacturer approved labels is from factory-authorized sources. These professional label printers, such as EDP/Colorflex, have state-of-the-art label printing, die cutting and laminating technologies that maintain the tight tolerances required by today's automated tape libraries. Though a few "print your own" labeling solutions are available, they can't ensure the bar code precision and alignment necessary to guarantee proper cartridge access, increasing the risk of not being able to read the label at a critical time; nor can they provide a lifetime guarantee of the label printed. This is a risk that most businesses can't afford to take. As data becomes more valuable every day, the need to provide high-availability storage systems has never bee n more important. Backup is important -- recovery is critical. Ensuring that the tape cartridge label can be read correctly should not be compromised. Use only a certified label provider to ensure the tape cartridge accessibility required by today's businesses.
The Cost of Downtime

Industry Sector Revenue/Hour Revenue/Employee-Hour

 Energy $2,817,846 $539
 Telecommunications $2,066,245 S186
 Manufacturing $1,610,654 $134
 Financial Institutions $1,495,134 $1,079
 Insurance $1,202,444 $371
 Retail $1,107,274 $244
 Pharmaceuticals $1,082,252 $168
 Banking $996,802 $131
 Utilities $643,250 $381
 Health Care $636,030 $143
 Average - All Sectors $1,010,536 $205

Source: META Group
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Article Details
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Author:Moore, Fred
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Article Type:Industry Overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2003
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