Shipped Tape Capacity Up 40 Percent, LTO Program Says
April 27, 2022 Alex Woodie
LTO tape providers shipped 148 exabytes of total capacity in 2021, representing a 40 percent increase over the previous year, the LTO Program announced last week. The number shows how far data growth bounced back following the slowdown during the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The total amount of compressed storage capacity delivered to customers jumped from the previous record of 114 EB in 2019, according to the LTO Program. The shipped capacity figure fell to 105 EB in 2020, an 8 percent drop from 2019.
“Despite the significant business disruptions and uncertainty in 2021, LTO tape capacity shipments achieved the largest increase since 2006, surpassing the previous record set in 2019,” Patrick Osborne, general manager and vice president of HPE Storage, said in a press release. “We’re continuing to see organizations return to tape technology, seeking out storage solutions that offer high capacity, reliability, long term data archiving, and stronger data protection measures, especially as threats to cybersecurity soar.”
The air-gapped nature of tape is providing to be a major advantage when it comes to ransomware attacks. Unlike always-on data replication systems, which can destroy backups by replicating the ransomware malware from the primary system to a secondary system, tapes cannot be so easily corrupted.
According to the IDC, 90 percent of companies around the world have experienced a ransomware attack, the LTO Program says. It’s unclear what part of the uptick in sales can be attributed to ransomware protection, but it’s likely to be a major factor.
“LTO tape is arguably the lowest-cost, simplest method of achieving ransomware recovery best practices,” Phil Goodwin, a research vice president at IDC, said in the LTO Program’s press release.
Ransomware trends are driving new backup tactics, including the “3-2-1-1” backup rule, which involves at least three copies or versions of data stored on two different storage mediums, one of which is off-site and one that is off-line, according to the LTO Program.
The LTO-9 spec, which was first announced in September 2020, delivers 18TB native capacity and data transfer rates of 400 MB per second. Those figures go higher when the 2.5-to-one compression is turned on, but the storage figure is lower than what the group had previously said was the goal.
LTO-9 drives offer full backward read and write compatibility with LTO-8 cartridges. LTO-9 cartridges support many previously introduced features, including multi-layer security support via hardware-based encryption, WORM (Write-Once, Read-Many) functionality, and support for Linear Tape File System (LTFS).
The LTO Program roadmap calls for LTO-10 to deliver “up to” 36 TB of native capacity, followed by LTO-11 with 72TB native capacity and LTO-12 with 144 TB of native capacity. Data transfer rates have not been shared by the group, but 2.5-to-one compression is expected to remain. There is usually a three-year gap between generations in the LTO Program, which means the next spec will likely be released in 2023.