Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Tape Storage Could Soon Crush Hard Drives With 400TB Capacities

If you’ve got a mountain of digital data to store but don’t necessarily need to access it every day, tape cartridges are the way to go. Twelve terabytes of storage will set you back about $100 these days, but in the coming years, Fujifilm believes it can push the technology to 400TB capacities in a single cartridge. 

The medium lives on as an affordable and reliable way to store terabytes of data.  For big corporations who need to hold onto data for decades, the savings do add up. 

At the moment, Linear Tape-Open, or LTO, is the primary type of magnetic tape storage used in data centers around the world. As it improves, newer generations are simply given a name with a higher number, with the LTO-8 standard being the current format in use which allows for 12TB of data to be stored on a cartridge, or up to 30TB with the data being compressed. The new LTO-9 format is expected to be available by year end or early 2021, which takes native storage capacities to 18TB per cart, but Fujifilm is looking much farther down the road than that. 

Data cartridges currently in use are made from a material called Barium Ferrite (BaFe) and every new generation uses smaller and smaller particles to cram more data onto a thin strip of tape. There’s a limit, though, when the particles get too small to be accurately read, so, as reported by Blocks & Files, Fujifilm is looking to switch to a new material called Strontium Ferrite (SrFe), a smaller molecule than BaFe which will allow for increased densities and more storage capacity per tape. 

But don’t toss those LTO-8 tapes just yet. On average it takes about two-and-a-half years between data tape generations for the improved technology to reach the market. It’s estimated that Fujifilm’s proposed 400TB cartridges would be part of the LTO-13 spec (we’re only just getting LTO-9 this year, remember) and so won’t be an actual product until around 2030 at the earliest. The technology sounds promising, but given how 2020 has been going, 2030 feels more like a century away than just a decade.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Comparison of Arcserve UDP and Veritas NetBackup

Anyone involved with IT in a midsize enterprise in any meaningful capacity wants to make the best choice when it comes to data protection.

These individuals intuitively understand the complexities associated with supporting this environment. Inside the data center one finds multiple types of software. Outside the data center, one encounters multiple types of clouds, edge devices and PCs.

On top of these variables, enterprise IT must also account for next gen requirements that span the gamut. All these variables contribute to an enterprise needing a sophisticated solution that protects its data and equips it for future requirements.

Arcserve UDP and Veritas NetBackup
Midsize enterprises frequently consider Arcserve Unified Data Protection (UDP) and Veritas NetBackup as solutions to protect their environments. Both products target enterprises though they approach them differently.

Arcserve specifically targets and develops its UDP software for midsize enterprises with 250-5,000 employees.

In contrast, a recent analysis of over 2,000 companies that use NetBackup found these companies range in employee size. 38% were midsize (200-5,000 employees) and 30% were large enterprises (5,000+ employees.) This analysis illustrates NetBackup provides the breadth of features that enterprises need.

The larger question becomes whether a midsize enterprise can easily and cost effectively utilize NetBackup’s features. That’s where the importance of selecting a solution optimized for a midsize enterprise emerges.

Baseline Requirements for Midsize Enterprises
To make the best choice, a midsize enterprise must first verify any solution under consideration meets its baseline data protection and recovery requirements.

These break down into 5 general areas:
• OSs (OSes)
• Applications
• Hypervisors
• Cloud
• Next-gen requirements

Both UDP and NetBackup deliver on these features core to midsize enterprise requirements. Each solution supports the primary applications, databases, OSs, and hypervisors that a midsize enterprise commonly uses.

Arcserve’s focus on delivering a solution optimized for a midsize enterprise shows up in a few ways. The company brings its own cloud offering to the table. Using its all-in-one DR service, the firm can host backup data and perform recoveries in its cloud on behalf of the midsize enterprise. The vendor also protects Microsoft Office 365 data whereas Veritas offers a separate SaaS backup offering to protect Office 365 data.

Endpoint Data and Anti-Ransomware Protection
Endpoint data and anti-ransomware protection frequently factor in when making the best choice among data protection solutions. Both Arcserve and Veritas share some traits in common in how their respective solutions help a midsize enterprise protect vs. ransomware. The two firms do, however, currently differ in their respective strategies for detecting and preventing ransomware on endpoint devices.

Veritas suggests that a midsize enterprise separately deploy Carbonite EndPoint to secure its endpoint devices from ransomware.

In contrast, Arcserve offers its own backup agents to backup endpoint devices. It also partners with Sophos to detect and protect Windows, Linux, and Unix clients from ransomware.

Installation and Management
Both firms offer integrated backup appliances to accelerate and simplify deployment and management of their respective solutions. Both these providers each offer a range of appliances to meet the needs of different size midsize enterprises.

To configure NetBackup, best practices call for deploying a minimum of 2 servers: a NetBackup master server and one or more media servers. A midsize enterprise should find UDP offers a more straightforward, lower cost software configuration and licensing framework. An enterprise may only need to acquire a single Arcserve server that can host all necessary UDP software and associated license keys.

Backup Solution Costs
Often the cost of the software becomes the deciding factor when making the best choice. Both vendors offer software licensing options that may appeal to a midsize enterprise. Among NetBackup’s additional software licensing options, 2 stand out. Its Starter Pack provides data protection for 5, 20, or 40 clients and starts at about $3,250. While more affordable, a midsize enterprise cannot upgrade this version to NetBackup Enterprise Server.

UDP breaks its licensing out in distinct ways that a midsize enterprise may more easily grasp and implement. A midsize enterprise may choose from four different editions of UDP with pricing starting at under $700. Once a midsize enterprise identifies the version that best matches it requirements, it selects the most optimal software licensing option for its environment.

UDP Tuned to Midsize Enterprise Needs
Both UDP and NetBackup provide the range of features that merit consideration by a midsize enterprise. However, when it comes to making the best choice for data protection in midsize enterprises, Arcserve specifically tunes UDP to match these requirements.

It already natively supports Office 365 and endpoint data protection and delivers all-in-one disaster recoveries both on-premises and in the cloud. Further, it delivers these features using a robust, yet simple to understand software version and licensing model.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

ATTO Technology XstreamCORE ET 8200 Enables Ethernet Sharing of Hewlett Packard Enterprise StoreEver MSL Tape Libraries

ATTO Technology, Inc., is pleased to announce ATTO XstreamCORE ET 8200 intelligent Bridges enable Ethernet sharing of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) StoreEver MSL SAS LTO Tape Libraries.

Connecting HPE StoreEver MSL SAS LTO Tape Libraries to Ethernet paves the way for new architecture and workflow possibilities with a low total cost of ownership (TCO). ATTO XstreamCORE ET 8200 is listed on the HPE Single Point of Connectivity Knowledge (SPOCK) website as an approved interoperable solution.

ATTO XstreamCORE ET 8200 is a unique intelligent protocol bridge that connects Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) LTO tape drives to Ethernet networks via iSCSI or iSER. It enables reliable high-performance remote Ethernet connectivity to SAS tape devices cost-effectively using patent-pending technology.

“Adding Ethernet to HPE’s cost effective distributed tape archiving solution is a very positive development for customers,” said Tom Kolniak, senior director of marketing, product management and alliances at ATTO. “With XstreamCORE and StoreEver, you have a low-cost tape archive solution from respected brands where the performance is on par, or even exceeds, far more expensive solutions.”

HPE StoreEver MSL Tape Libraries meet the demanding storage requirements of businesses needing unattended tape backup, disaster recovery, or low-cost long-term archive capability. HPE StoreEver can help improve price/performance by moving data that does not require fast access onto the lowest-cost tape tier.

“This collaboration with ATTO provides greater flexibility to our customers while deploying an archival solution,” said George Tombropoulos, Director, HPE StoreEver LTO Tape Solutions. “StoreEver Tape Libraries with XstreamCORE intelligent bridges allow administrators to design unique, highly scalable Ethernet-based tape archival storage solutions.”

With both products, customers get an uncomplicated backup and archive solution with advanced monitoring and management capabilities that delivers better throughput performance enabled by exclusive ATTO SpeedWrite technology.

Friday, May 15, 2020

HDD Failure Rates Based on 129,764 HDDs Running

As of March 31, 2020, Backblaze had 132,339 spinning hard drives in our cloud storage ecosystem spread across four data centers. Of that number, there were 2,380 boot drives and 129,959 data drives. This review looks at the Q1 2020 and lifetime hard drive failure rates of the data drive models currently in operation in our data centers and provides a handful of insights and observations along the way. In addition, near the end of the post, we review a few 2019 predictions we posed a year ago. As always, we look forward to your comments.

Hard Drive Failure Stats for 1Q20
At the end of 1Q20, Backblaze was using 129,959 hard drives to store customer data. For our evaluation we remove from consideration those drives that were used for testing purposes and those drive models for which we did not have at least 60 drives (see why below). This leaves us with 129,764 hard drives. The table below covers what happened in 1Q20.

Notes and Observations
The Annualized Failure Rate (AFR) for 1Q20 was 1.07%. That is the lowest AFR for any quarter since we started keeping track in 2013. In addition, the 1Q20 AFR is significantly lower than the 1Q19 AFR which was 1.56%.

During this quarter 4 drive models, from 3 manufacturers, had 0 drive failures. None of the Toshiba 4TB and Seagate 16TB drives failed in 1Q20, but both drives had less than 10,000 drive days during the quarter. As a consequence, the AFR can range widely from a small change in drive failures. For example, if just one Seagate 16TB drive had failed, the AFR would be 7.25% for the quarter. Similarly, the Toshiba 4TB drive AFR would be 4.05% with just one failure in the quarter.
On the contrary, both of the HGST drives with 0 failure in the quarter have a reasonable number of drive days, so the AFR is less volatile. If the 8TB model had 1 failure in the quarter, the AFR would only be 0.40% and the 12TB model would have an AFR of just 0.26% with 1 failure for the quarter. In both cases, the 0% AFR for the quarter is impressive.
There were 195 drives (129,959 minus 129,764) that were not included in the list above because they were used as testing drives or we did not have at least 60 drives of a given model. For example, we have: 20 Toshiba 16TB drives (model: MG08ACA16TA), 20 HGST 10TB drives (model: HUH721010ALE600), and 20 Toshiba 8TB drives (model: HDWF180). When we report quarterly, yearly, or lifetime drive statistics, those models with less than 60 drives are not included in the calculations or graphs. We use 60 drives as a minimum as there are 60 drives in all newly deployed Storage Pods.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Why Tape Still Has Role in Business Continuity?

I can forgive some people – those who last touched a consumer VHS tape or audiocassette in the late 90s or early 2000s. I’ve come to really enjoy expanding their perspective, though, when I tell them that tape is a major workhorse in the cloud and that most of the household-name technology and Internet companies are tape users. BC, including several data protection applications, is a big part of the reason why, along with tape’s low TCO and low energy consumption. I think we can all agree that economics and preserving the environment is key to continuity in its own right.

Information currently in zettabyte age
The WW datasphere is currently around 35ZB and expected to be 175ZB by 2025 – an estimated annual compound growth rate of 30%.

The odds are good you’re seeing a similar rate of data explosion in your own business. Everything today is born digital, not just structured’ data like databases but unstructured data such as spreadsheets, documents, presentations, video, audio and photographs. Add to that the appliances and devices in the IoT – smart vehicles, smart planes, smart phones, smart homes, factories and cities. Then add to the mix AI, ML, ecommerce, email, social media, gaming, surveillance, VR, mobile and more – you can see the path we’re on.

We keep all this data around for years and sometimes decades because it is potentially valuable enough to justify archiving or keeping online in an active archive. Whether your business relies on archival video footage or photos, harvests data for sale to outside parties or uses information for internal streamlining, strategy or planning, it’s become impossible to even imagine a modern business without data that is increasing in value.

Today, nearly all data is managed throughout its lifecycle using 3 core storage technologies: flash, HDD, and tape. I know some of you are thinking – “but what about the cloud?” The truth is that the cloud is more of a service delivery model than a storage technology, leveraging global connectivity to get those core technologies of flash, HDD and tape working in unison, seamlessly and invisibly behind the scenes.

These core technologies don’t compete per se, because each has its role in the storage workflow and lifecycle.

Flash provides the fastest access times, making it the choice for data that needs frequent, instant access. The tradeoff is its higher price/TB.

HDD is less expensive with the tradeoff being slower speeds than flash and intensive energy use.
Tape is by far the least expensive of the 3, requiring essentially zero power when idle in a tape library or in an archival vault, making it for long term storage. Throw in the best reliability of any storage medium and the longest archival life and you have a strong case for BC.

The continuity case for tape
So. Back to the value of that data. For many businesses, and maybe yours, information may very well be the most valuable asset. By its nature, accumulated data is accumulated value. And where there’s value, there’s always somebody looking to exploit or steal it.

Cybercrime is on the rise and the impacts are sobering. In the first three quarters of 2019, 7.2 billion malware attacks were launched, as well as 151.9 million ransomware attacks, according to SonicWall. The healthcare industry alone reported an 80% increase in cybercrime between 2017 and 2019, with hundreds of incidents and over 400 thousand supposedly HIPAA-protected patient records stolen. Cryptojacking is the latest threat, with 52.7 million incidents, in 1CQ19, of hackers taking control of users’ CPUs to mine data for cryptocurrency.

Here’s where tape’s use case gets especially strong. While spinning disks and flash drives are networked and accessible all of the time, tape can also support an active archive or can be easily stored offline and accessed only when needed. This creates an ‘air gap’ between valuable data, the local network and the web, a practice encouraged by The National Institute of Standards and Technology as “the only true risk avoidance in today’s IT environment.”

Beyond cybercrime, the recent COVID-19 outbreak has reminded us of the vulnerability of global supply chains, especially in the technology space. Businesses can take some comfort in knowing that unlike other storage technologies, tape has a diverse manufacturing footprint, including production in the USA.

No discussion of continuity is complete without a look towards the future. LTO format, an industry standard, has committed to a long-term roadmap ensuring future cartridge capacities from today’s gen 8 at 30TB capacity up to currently planned gen 12 with 480TB of compressed data, ensuring tape will be a relevant technology for years to come.

This low cost of ownership and energy consumption, security, reliability and scalability are the main reasons that nearly all of the big cloud service providers also rely on tape in their massive hyperscale data centers. And as even mid-size businesses grapple with the challenges of massive and growing volumes of data, tape’s value proposition is becoming compelling for a wider audience once again. 

Your business may not be a hyperscale data center today, but it might be time to start thinking like one. Back to the future, indeed.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Backup Software’s Expanding Efforts to Help Defeat Ransomware in Data Center

Ask anyone how to defeat ransomware and software from cyber security providers may first come to mind. These include Avast, Bitdefender, Malwarebytes, Sophos.

Mention using backup software to defeat ransomware and people may look at you like you have lost your mind. Crazy or not, backup software now incorporates features that serve as a secondary perimeter to defend vs. ransomware attacks.

Prevention is Best
You will get no argument from me on this point. Every organization should deploy cyber security to stop a ransomware attack before it ever starts. Once ransomware detonates, an organization may pay a heavy price. In a worst case it pays a ransom to hopefully get its data back. Even if it never pays a ransom, it still pays a heavy toll in lost productivity and business disruption as it recovers data.

However, here’s the catch. An organization cannot assume that cyber security software will suffice in protecting it vs. ransomware. Cyber security software cannot detect and prevent vs. all strains of ransomware. Ransomware changes too rapidly and enters organizations in too many ways for any cyber security software to successfully work in every instance. This puts the onus on every organization to have a means to recover in the likely event that ransomware detonates in their environment.

Backup Software’s Expanding Efforts
To help cyber security software deal with ransomware attacks, an organization may now turn to backup software. Many backup software solutions go beyond core backup and restore capabilities. They now offer their own means to detect, prevent, and recover from ransomware attacks. Backup software solutions vary in the type and number of techniques they use. Here are 4 methods already found and used in a few products:

Honey Pot
Using this technique, the backup software provider places its own files, or honey pots, on production application and file servers. These files serve no other purpose but to detect if ransomware exists in the production environment. Should ransomware detonate and change or encrypt any of these files, the backup software will detect this file change during the backup. The backup software will, in turn, alert the organization that such a file change occurred.

Backup Software Integrated with Anti-Malware Software
Integrating anti-malware and backup software brings together the best of both backup and cyber security software. The backup software continues to focus on what it does best – backing up and recovering data. The anti-malware software comes into play as it may scan data during backups or recoveries. If it detects ransomware in the backup, it alerts to its presence.

Monitoring and Alerting on Changes to Backup Data Files
Many backup software products now store backup files on network file shares. While efficient, it does potentially expose these files to any ransomware that can access these file shares. Once it accesses them, it can encrypt or delete them making them unusable for recovery. To help prevent this, some backup software monitors the locations of backup files for any unusual or suspicious activity.

Predictive Analytics
Some backup providers now incorporate AI and ML into their solutions. This software examines and compares the data contained in backup files and looks for unusual changes in data between backups. If it detects anomalies between backups, it generates alerts to prompt organizations to examine that data.

Powerful Antidote to Ransomware Attacks
No one solution – backup or cyber security software – yet possesses all the answers to prevent ransomware from ever detonating. However, used together, these 2 software products provide organizations with a powerful antidote to ransomware attacks. Used together, they equip almost any organization to detect, prevent, and recover from a ransomware attack should one occur.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tony Evans VP of Business Development and North America Sales, Overland-Tandberg

Coming from Jupiter Networks, Cisco, IBM and HPE

Overland-Tandberg, acquired by Silicon Valley Technology Partners for $45 million last year,, announced that Silicon Valley global technology veteran, Tony Evans, has been appointed VP of business development and North America sales.

I’m excited to have Tony join the executive leadership team of Overland-Tandberg. He brings tremendous industry experience with more than 20 years successfully leading high-performance teams and accelerating companies’ strategic growth objectives. Tony will be reporting to me and will be responsible for leading the development of strategic business initiatives and the North America sales team,” said Eric Kelly, chairman and CEO.

I am thrilled to join the Overland-Tandberg team with its focus on helping clients implement Hybrid Cloud with industry-leading products and partnerships through an innovative business model. Overland-Tandberg is revolutionizing data protection and BC. I’m excited to join a company leveraging global intellect and innovation around the world,” says Evans.

Prior to joining Overland-Tandberg, he leveraged his expertise assisting early to late stage privately funded high-velocity portfolio companies’ positions, selling and delivering business value and outcomes derived from their technology. He served in a variety of different global sales, go-to-market and business development leadership positions.

He also brings experience with some of technology infrastructure companies, more recently operating as MD and VP of global financial services for Juniper Networks and other such as Cisco, IBM and HPE.


Quantum CEO Predictions for 2020

Autonomous vehicle development increasingly human-centric, increased adoption of HCI for video surveillance, video and images biggest data generator for enterprises, NVMe to erode SAS SSD array faster, tape market growing reversing decade-long declining

• Autonomous vehicle development will become increasingly human-centric: as OEMs and their technology partners strive to closely align assisted and autonomous driving technology to human behavior. In order to develop systems that adapt to the characteristics of individual drivers or riders, immense amounts of behavioral data must be captured and analyzed, including bio-metric, in addition to external sensor and vehicle control system data. This means the need for cost-effective storage performance and scalability will continue to skyrocket.

• HCI will see increased adoption in video surveillance: IHS predicts worldwide surveillance storage revenue will grow from $3.4 billion in 2019 to $4.2 billion in 2020. Growth is driven by increased demand for better security, smart city and public safety initiatives (public sector), and the desire for business intelligence. Legacy systems require individual components to address compute, storage and networking while HCI for video surveillance integrates all 3 into single platform, delivering easier to install and manage appliances that do not require that security professionals rely on specialized IT assistance. Moreover, HCI appliances enable storage to scale so that when environments grow, the platform can grow too – a challenge amplified by increases in camera counts, camera resolutions, and video retention times. They provide a solid underlying platform to deploy new capabilities, both today and tomorrow.

• Video and images represent biggest data generator for most enterprises: Between surveillance footage, video for marketing and training purposes across all industries, and the use of high-res image and video content generated by machines in use cases as diverse as movie and TV production, autonomous vehicle design, manufacturing, healthcare – we believe video and high-res image content will represent biggest ‘class’ of data for most enterprises.

• NVMe will erode traditional SAS SSD array market faster than originally predicted: With the performance advantages of NVMe, and by leveraging new networking technologies like RDMA, we believe NVMe will erode the market for traditional SSD storage much faster than predicted. In markets such as M&E where higher resolution content combined with higher frame rates, more bits per pixel and more cameras per project are putting pressure on storage architectures, NVMe should prove particularly appealing.

• Tape storage market will grow, reversing a decade-long declining trend: Tape has emerged as a key technology for massive scale cold storage infrastructure – both in the cloud and on-premise. And we believe the architectures used in the cloud will eventually make their way back into the enterprise. So we believe the tape market will grow, and continue to grow over the next 5-10 years, based on a new use case for tape as cold storage for (primarily) video and high res image data.