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Reducing Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions with Modern Tape Storage

posted Nov 18, 2020, 10:02 AM by Bradley Johns   [ updated Nov 19, 2020, 8:29 AM ]

Reducing carbon emissions is a significant global challenge. Many companies have decided they must incorporate carbon reductions into their strategies and have announced green initiatives. Data centers are a significant consumer of electricity. One opportunity for reducing energy consumption and resulting carbon emissions is moving inactive data from disk storage to tape storage. Industry analysts estimate that 60% of the data stored on disk storage is infrequently accessed.  We estimate that by moving 10 PB of "cold data" that is growing 35% annually from disk to tape storage, an 87% reduction in carbon emission and an 86% reduction in TCO can be achieved over ten years. IT organizations have a significant opportunity to achieve meaningful carbon emissions reductions while lowering operational and capital expenses.

Reflections on Storage Technology Showcase 2020

posted Apr 7, 2020, 10:47 AM by Bradley Johns

In early March, before conferences of all types across the country shut down and social distancing was mandated, I was sitting in a conference room in Albuquerque, New Mexico, attending the Storage Technology Showcase 2020 and it struck me, I was surrounded by power users. Many of the participants were storage users who push the capabilities of data storage technology to the limit. Every industry has power users; in the automotive industry, it is those that demand the fastest and highest performing cars. Think of NASCAR or the 24 hours of Le Mans. The drivers push race cars to their limits. For data storage, the power users for storage are the organizations that perform high-performance computing.  

Several of the presentations were from storage managers at super computing centers that performed research in energy and weather systems. They highlighted the demanding storage environments for high-performance computing. In practice, this means a lot of flash, a lot of disk, and massive quantities of tape connected via high-speed networks. For example, to support the existing Cray XC-40 and coming Perlmutter supercomputers, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) 2020 storage architecture includes more than 30 PB of flash, 340 PB of disk, and .5 EB of tape storage.

One of the themes of the conference was the importance of tape storage in cost-effectively managing massive amounts of archive data. For example, the European Centre for medium-range weather forecasts (ECMWF) has over 450 PB of archive data stored on tape and adds another 260 TB/Day. At these capacity points, tape storage is essential not only for financial reasons but also for other features: volumetric efficiency, a long media life and energy savings.

A surprising presentation was Western Digital Corporation’s “Tape to the future presentation." While most of us think of WDC as an HDD and Flash company, the presentation highlighted the potential of dramatic growth in the amount of data stored on tape in the coming decade. This growth will be driven by the growth of archive data in hyper-scale data centers. To meet these needs, several cost, packaging, performance, and storage architecture requirements were suggested.  

The final theme that several presentations touched on was the challenge of migrating storage infrastructure to new technology while maintaining service levels. Migrations present a host of challenges, and different approaches were taken due to widely differing environments and history. Given the substantial amounts of data stored and the value of the information, a great deal of planning was done, and the migration process spanned months, or even years.  

Overall, it was a very informative conference with a wealth of real-world user case studies and information on storage technology from important suppliers. The conference agenda and presentations can be found here: STS2020.  While the digital data explosion continues, technology is rapidly evolving  to help organizations manage the challenge effectively.


TCO Tool V2 has arrived!

posted Sep 11, 2019, 8:40 AM by Brad Johns   [ updated Sep 11, 2019, 8:43 AM ]

In conjunction with the availability of LTO 8 tape media, the Fujifilm TCO tool has been significantly enhanced. There are a number of important changes with this version; the tape technology used for the estimated tape TCO has been changed from LTO 7 to LTO 8, the amount of data supported in the initial year increased to 100 PB, the disk TCO calculations have been updated to reflect the use of new higher capacity 12 and 14 TB HDD's, CAPEX and OPEX are calculated for 5 and 10 years, Cloud Storage TCO has been updated to incorporate the new low-cost deep archive offerings and Systems Management personnel costs have been added.
Systems Management is one of those costs that most models shy away from for a good reason; they are hard to estimate! To help develop the estimate large (mostly higher than 10 PB) tape storage customers were surveyed for disk and tape storage systems management effort measured in Full-Time-Equivalents (FTE’s). Secondary market research was used for the cloud storage systems management estimate in conjunction with the survey results. These values are used the default values in the TCO tool. Of course, individual environments may vary dramatically. There may be different applications, different user groups and different storage tools. To accommodate this, systems management effort per PB can be changed on the "Options" page. 

For a quick TCO estimate, using the default values, only three variables are required on the first tab; the amount of storage needed in the first year, the annual growth rate and the percentage of data retrieved each year. The additional variables are accessed on the Options tab. Try out the new tool at TCO Tool V2.

Updated TCO Tool is here!

posted Sep 25, 2018, 10:48 AM by Bradley Johns   [ updated Sep 11, 2019, 8:41 AM by Brad Johns ]

Late last year, the initial version of the FujiFilm TCO tool was released. It provided an easy way to quickly compare the cost of storing data on tape, disk and the cloud. Only three inputs were needed; the amount of data to be saved, the annual growth rate and the percentage of data retrieved each year. With this version, additional variables have been added to allow for a greater range of tailoring. These variables can be found on the “Advanced” tab. They include; the number of data copies needed, energy cost, the ratio of cartridges to drive, the % of copies stored off-site, the average vaulting cost for tape cartridges and the size of the average data request. It also includes a number of variables to tailor the cost estimates for networking; bandwidth requirements and cost. Also, on the advanced tab are cost breakdowns for each of the storage types. 

Estimating the Total Cost of Long Term Data Storage

posted Dec 19, 2017, 8:23 AM by Bradley Johns   [ updated Sep 11, 2019, 8:41 AM by Brad Johns ]

As the amount of data organizations create and manage continues to grow, the cost-effective storage of infrequently accessed information has become a significant challenge. There are several different technologies available for long term data storage, and the one of the significant management issues is to understand the total cost of the different technologies for long term storage of cold data. Working with FujiFilm, I developed a simple, easy to use calculator that provides an estimate of the 10-year total cost of ownership of data storage using tape, cloud and disk technologies. The tape storage costs are based on LTO 7 tape drives and media. The disk storage costs are composed of an average of high capacity, low cost disk systems using 10 TB Enterprise HDD’s while the cloud storage cost estimates are based on an industry leading cloud storage provider. The estimates include the cost of a refreshing the disk and tape infrastructure after 5 years.

Interested in the history of IBM Data Tape Storage?

posted Aug 2, 2017, 10:55 AM by Bradley Johns   [ updated Aug 2, 2017, 11:03 AM ]

The Computer History Museum ( http://www.computerhistory.org/ ) just released the video history of IBM tape storage including the IBM 3480 (introduced in 1984), tape media , an overview of tape and tape product management  and LTO tape (introduced in 2000). The interviews include current and former IBM development, business and marketing personnel that participated these projects.  

If you’re interested in the history of this storage technology, then these interviews will provide a very informative and entertaining education on the evolution of tape storage. They are not short, so break out the popcorn, find a comfortable chair and enjoy!

NAB Show Thought Gallery: Boost Your Efficiencies with LTO Tape Technology and LTFS

posted Apr 16, 2017, 4:22 PM by Bradley Johns   [ updated Apr 16, 2017, 4:36 PM ]

As the Media and Entertainment industry has decisively moved to file based workflows and the cost-effective capture, protection, distribution and archive of digital content has become paramount. This webinar discusses how end-users and suppliers have incorporated LTO tape technology and LTFS into their workflows to meet these requirements. A description of LTFS is provided and real use-case examples of LTO tape and LTFS in industry workflows are described along with an outline of the solution benefits. The presentation can be found at Pre-NAB Webinar on LTO with LTFS in Media and Entertainment.

Bending the Cost Curve - Leveraging Tape to Deliver Budget Savvy Data Storage

posted Jun 1, 2014, 9:37 AM by Bradley Johns   [ updated Sep 6, 2019, 12:27 PM by Brad Johns ]

Have more data than budget for storage? Are you looking for ways to reduce the cost of data storage? Then the BrightTalk webcast Bending the Cost Curve: Leverage Tape Technology to Deliver Business Value with Jon Toigo might be of interest. Some of the highlights of the web cast were: The growth of digital data is projected to grow at over 40% per year, and highly virtualized environments are reporting growth of over 300% per year. However, studies suggest that as much as 40% of the data residing on Tier 1 storage has not been accessed in over 6 months. Moving this “stale” data from primary storage to tape storage, may significantly reduce overall storage costs.

Jon discussed tools and techniques, including new storage offerings, that take advantage of tape storage to lower overall storage costs. We also had an enjoyable "Between Two LUN's" question and answer session that touched on Cloud Storage, the changing role of tape, and the relative total cost of ownership of tape storage solutions versus high capacity disk system.

posted Apr 1, 2012, 1:32 PM by Brad Johns   [ updated Apr 13, 2012, 9:45 AM by Bradley Johns ]

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