We show you why tape is the prudent pick for cost-effective storage and how Qualstar makes the deal even sweeter.

No matter how well suited a storage solution is for a given application, the practical consideration of cost will ultimately decide whether or not a business can adopt it. That is why we are devoting this post to one of tape’s most attractive features: its low cost compared to other data storage solutions like hard drives, solid state, and optical. In fact, IT research and analysis firm Enterprise Strategy Group estimates that tape storage has an annual total cost of ownership seven times less than disk-based alternatives. Here, we’ll break down the major sources of savings.

Media Price
Qualstar libraries use the world’s leading magnetic tape storage format, Linear Tape-Open (LTO), which was jointly developed by IBM, HP, and Quantum in 2000. Since then, the standard has been periodically updated to accommodate more storage space and faster throughput, and the LTO Consortium has issued a roadmap for its next four generations.

One of the most readily apparent sources of savings from a tape system comes from a simple comparison of the cost of LTO media versus its alternatives. LTO cartridges are extremely data dense, with the latest generation (LTO-8) offering 12 terabytes of native storage and 30 terabytes compressed. Combine this with their low cost—about $119 for an LTO-8 cartridge—and you get a price per terabyte of about $9.92. A 7200 rpm SATA HDD with the same capacity is about $320, which gives you a price per terabyte of $26.66—nearly three times higher. The latest generation of HDDs attempt to close this gap, but subsequent generations of LTO tape (as outlined by the roadmap) will only sharpen the divide by increasing capacities up to 192 TB (uncompressed) per cartridge with LTO-12.

Power Consumption
The extremely low power consumption of tape libraries when compared to their alternatives (especially hard drives) is one of their largest sources of ongoing savings. While hard disk arrays have faster read/write speeds, it comes at a cost, as the platters inside the hard disks must continue spinning at all times—even when not being accessed. This ends up wasting a tremendous amount of energy, which not only increases its cost of ownership, but also your organization’s carbon footprint.

Tape, on the other hand, only requires power when the library’s drive is writing or accessing data. Once data is written to tape, it can be stored for up to 30 years without requiring any power. The numbers bear this out: According to IBM, hard disk systems use 70 times more energy than tape systems. Eliminating that wasted energy can translate to big savings as well as a significant drop in your company’s C02 emissions.

Life Span
Another inherent cost benefit of tape is its extremely long life span, which beats just about anything out there. Where properly stored, tape can maintain data integrity for up to 30 years. This is especially important for archival applications, as it allows companies to store data for extended periods without incurring the downtime and cost associated with replacing media and transferring your data to it.

We have already discussed the superlative data density of tape and how it contributes to the low cost per terabyte rate of tape, but that density also contributes to another, less obvious source of savings—its smaller physical footprint. Because tape libraries can pack dozens of petabytes into a single unit measuring just a few feet in width and depth, IT teams require less floorspace to store the same amount of data. This allows businesses to avoid having to acquire more space to accommodate the libraries and to utilize the space they save for more productive purposes—both of which contribute positively to their bottom lines.

Final Thoughts
Tape is the ultimate low-cost, reliable option for the near-line and offline data storage requirements. If you would like to find out if your business could benefit from a Qualstar tape library system, please get in touch with one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales representatives.

In our next post, we’ll explore the unique ways beyond the inherent benefits of tape that Qualstar helps your business save money. Check back soon!