Antony Adshead

Fujifilm plans to ‘make tape easy’ with Kangaroo SME appliance

Fujifilm to add 100TB SME-focused Kangaroo tape infrastructure in a box to existing 1PB offer, as energy efficiency and security of tape make it alluring to customers

“Make tape easy.” That’s the rallying call from Fujifilm, which says this is key to getting more organisations to use tape, which has very strong claims to being the cheapest, most energy efficient and best-suited to long-term archiving of all storage media.

Fujifilm plans to make tape easy by extending its Kangaroo family of LTO tape archiving “appliances” to an entry-level 100TB (terabyte) form factor this summer.

Its existing Kangaroo will store 1PB (petabyte) in a bundled product that comprises LTO-9 tape media (up to 120 cartridges) and a tape library, with object storage-based archiving software, plus server hardware and a monitor and keyboard. It all comes in a plug-and-play appliance.

But this summer, the company will introduce a 100TB Kangaroo Lite. LTO-9 offers 18TB uncompressed per tape cartridge, with LTO-10, due in 2025, set to offer 36TB.

According to Peter Struik, executive vice-president for Fujifilm in Europe, tape is supremely well-suited to archiving workloads and should gain strong consideration from customers because of its longevity, energy efficiency and low cost of ownership.

“For archiving, the key is no vendor lock-in,” said Struik, speaking at an IT Press Tour event. “Customers will potentially want to access data in 20 or 30 years, or longer, and what storage will they have?”

Here, Struik makes a point about Kangaroo’s software environment. It is Linux-based and can be accessed via command line, with the intention that no matter what else changes, data stored for many decades will still be available via a very simple interface.

Kangaroo’s data mover software can be accessed via NFS, SMB and S3 with restores in .tar format. “It is open and hasn’t changed in 40 years,” said Struik.

“Cold data is growing but budgets are not,” said Struik. “Tape should be part of the solution, a hybrid solution. But we haven’t made it easy, so people fled to the cloud. Now, two years later, they found it is not so good. So, we have to make tape easy.”

“For all the data you’re not using or hardly using, tape is the best choice,” said Struik. “If you don’t touch it for six months, or you’re keeping it for a long time, tape makes sense.”

Cold data is growing but budgets are not. Tape should be part of the solution, [but] we have to make it easy
Peter Struik, Fujifilm

The advantages of tape compared with other storage methods are better energy efficiency, lower costs, less electronic waste, and better security and performance.

Regarding energy efficiency, disk has to remain constantly spinning to store data, whereas tape consumes power only when it is being written to or read, so energy costs are much lower, with 95% less energy used than with hard disk drives (HDDs).

Carbon emissions are also significantly lower for tape compared with HDDs. According to a study cited by the IEEE, tape media can last 30 years or more, in contrast to five years for disk drives. During their lifespan, HDDs produce about 2.55kg of CO2 per terabyte per year, while tape produces just 0.07kg of CO2 per terabyte per year.

According to IDC figures cited by the IEEE, if organisations worldwide shifted 60% of their data to tape, the amount of CO2 emitted by data storage would fall by 58%.

In terms of cost, tape costs eight times less than disk over a 10-year total cost of ownership period for 10PB, according to a study cited by IDC.

In addition, tape’s much greater longevity – 30-plus years versus five years or so for HDDs – means much less e-waste. The study cited by the IEEE said 51% less e-waste is generated for 100PB of data over a 10-year period – that’s 3.6 tonnes of tape hardware versus 7.4 tonnes of HDDs.

In terms of security, tape is inherently more secure than spinning disk, mostly due to being disconnected from the network when not in use. Also, the LTO-9 standard includes hardware encryption and write-once read-many (WORM) functionality.

When it comes to performance, an LTO-9 tape cartridge holds 45TB of data when compressed with transfer speeds of 400MBps native or 1,000MBps when using 2.5:1 compression. Areal density is about 100 times greater for tape than HDD.

Tape also has downsides, however. The key disadvantage of tape is its access times. HDDs are always on and data can be accessed anywhere on their platters. Tapes have to cue up to the location on the tape where data is stored. The lowest access times for offline tape are measured in minutes, which can stretch way further if tapes are stored remotely.

Read more on tape archiving

  • Tape is back on the main menu: The news that another big player in global file systems has integrated tape access into its data orchestration software should remind us tape’s modern incarnations are very modern indeed.
  • What’s driving the resurgence in tape storage use? Tape storage use has had a recent revival as a result of its air-gapped protection from ransomware. But that’s not the only reason why businesses use the legacy technology.

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