Tape Clings to Power: But Does the Emperor Have No Clothes?

Tape Clings to Power: But Does the Emperor Have No Clothes?

Over the past fifteen years, storage vendors looking to replace tape as the primary backup media have sounded its death knell far and wide. But tape has hung around as the de facto standard for many enterprises. That is, until now.

Tape has been through a lot in its life. Today’s IT teams view disk as the first destination for backup copy. The reliance on tape as the primary backup copy has plummeted yet further with the introduction of deduplication into the backup stream (source or target). Also check out the steady growth of Purpose-Built Backup Appliance (PBBA) vendors to see what’s happening in the market.

And yet. While some vendors have achieved incredible success replacing tape with disk storage, the big T still refuses to die.  Why is disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) still alive? And why hasn’t deduplication strangled tape with its own ribbon?

Dismal Alternatives Keep Tape Alive

The scale and cost limitations of legacy backup software and appliance-based deduplication products have done wonders to keep tape alive. For example, when architecting deduplication into the backup stream, vendors expend significant care and resources to ensure that the optimal hardware recommendations are included in the design. Much care needs to be given to how big a dedupe database or index will grow before a “seal and re-baseline” needs to occur to maintain optimal performance. With continued planning and maintenance this can be achieved, however, when things go wrong there’s hell to pay.

Under-configuration can cause massive performance issues to snowball into larger problems down the line. Hardware issues can also cause the failure of databases and indexes core to the design, making rip and replace common. Scaling out when you want to scale up adds up, as does constant overbuying and oversubscribing. Repeated upgrades and the addition of resources becomes the norm. Moreover, the “best practice” of creating a second copy for offsite, DR, and redundancy requires 2x resources.

The endgame of all this is the creation of silos. And silos increase cost, which in turn makes it difficult to get rid of tape.

Something has Changed in the Past Five Years

What is the most disruptive force to hit enterprise technology in decades? Ask any analyst and the answer will likely be cloud. And I’m not talking about managed services or simply co-locating a legacy product which just brings all the existing limitations with it, I’m talking Cloud with a capital C. Specifically, Amazon Web Services (AWS) which has enabled software developers to design technologies with nearly unlimited scale.

Building for the cloud has removed many of the bottlenecks that still hamper traditional vendors. By building cloud solutions that leverage technologies like DynamoDB, infinitely scalable S3 Object Storage, and on-demand compute resources, software developers can now scale components and design services to unprecedented levels. Accordingly, vendors like Druva are now starting to introduce solutions that have these capabilities.

Long-term Backup Meets Cloud

Born in the cloud, Druva’s Phoenix solution addresses the cost considerations that have kept tape alive for long-term backup. By addressing the traditional pain points of legacy deduplication solutions, Druva provides:

  1. A cloud backup service with an infinitely scalable deduplication engine
  2. A fully redundant storage layer on S3 providing unmatched data durability with automatic tiering of data to cold storage
  3. Global deduped, forever incremental backup reducing network requirements
  4. A bullet-proof security model that insures only the customer has access to their data
  5. A comprehensive, turnkey solution that takes only minutes to set up

A key benefit of Druva’s modern architecture is that it allows us to offer a usage-based pricing model for copy data. By only paying for what you use post dedupe, leveraging the cloud for long term backup and archive becomes cost effective and predictable. In addition, as a turnkey SaaS solution with setup times measured in minutes not weeks, Druva eliminates the challenges of traditional backup deployment. All of this enables organizations to achieve a total cost of ownership (TCO) that either matches or beats the cost of long term tape management.

Tape served its purpose and had a good run. However, the time has come for D2D2T to become disk-to-disk-to-cloud. If you’re looking to hasten tape’s inevitable demise, cloud backup powered by Druva Phoenix is just the tool you’re looking for.

Interested in learning how to leverage the public cloud for state-of-the-art backup, archiving, and disaster recovery? Download the executive brief below titled ‘Leveraging The Public Cloud for Enterprise Data Protection.’



Jesse Kachapis

I've been working in the enterprise data protection space for over 15 years with both cloud providers and traditional vendors architecting solutions for enterprises of all sizes. I've experienced evolutions in the market that have been driven by both rapidly changing technology and customer demand. It makes my job fun and I love what I do. I live in Providence, RI with my wife, two kids, and our cat Pablo.


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