LTFS tape NAS guide: What it is and how to build it

LTFS tape NAS: What it is and how to build it

Linear Tape File System (LTFS) offers the chance to build nearline storage with the cost profile of tape and the access times of NAS. This guide walks you through LTFS and tape NAS

In storage, cost is everything. So, imagine a storage medium with the frugal cost profile of tape and access times of NAS. Well, it already exists. Since 2010 the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) has allowed access to tapes as if they are spinning disk. Part of the LTO-5 tape format, LTFS partitions the tape, with one containing indexing information for all the data on the cartridge and the other contains the actual data. Marry this capability to a hardware NAS protocol front end with a disk cache and you have the potential for rapid access to massive amounts of data held on tape.

Tiered storage is now mainstream. We have super-rapid flash for virtual machines and their data; Fibre Channel and 15k SAS for other fast access use cases. After that there is high-capacity SATA for bulk data, but here is where LTFS could start treading on the toes of disk vendors. That’s because, in some cases, where the use profile of data requires long retention and infrequent but relatively quick access, LTFS tape now rivals large capacity SATA as a nearline store.

Maybe that’s why LTFS has failed to set the world on fire; there are just too many disk vendors who see it as a threat. Nevertheless, LTFS is worth looking at. And in this Guide you’ll find articles on why LTFS should be taken seriously and explanations of how tape NAS works and who sells products.

Table of contents:

LTFS News and Features

LTFS Linear Tape File System needs a boost
Storage magazine editor Rich Castagna surveys the LTFS market and suggests vendors could be cold-shouldering LTFS to protect spinning disk revenues, to the detriment of customers. There is hope, however, in the shape of a storage industry initiative.

Tape NAS emerges, using LTFS for file access
In this article from Andrew Burton explains how tape NAS works and surveys some key products available and the use cases it is suited to.

IBM adds LTFS to its tape libraries
This article reports on IBM’s 2010 launch of LTFS for its tape libraries.

Quantum launches LTFS products
Quantum launches a range of tape NAS devices aimed at enterprise and departmental use cases.

LTFS LTO-5 and the Linear tape File System – What you need to know
Storage analyst Jon Toigo talks about what you need to build a tape NAS system with LTFS if you have LTO-5.

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