Data Migration in Long Term Active Archives

By Rich Gadomski

I recently attended the Storage Visions 2016 Conference to participate on a speaker panel entitled: “Saving Data Forever: Long Term Content Preservation and Archiving.” The panel was in agreement that “forever” is a long time especially in the world of IT storage. While we were hard pressed to predict what storage technologies would be available 5,000 years from now as one attendee asked, our advice was to put an active archive in place that can routinely manage the migration of data from performance tier to economy tier and from older storage formats to new ones. The benefits of old to new migration typically include better performance, reduced footprint from greater density and lower total cost of ownership.

In a typical active archive environment, data management software migrates data by policy from expensive primary storage tiers to more cost effective tiers such as tape while maintaining the convenience of online file access to all of the data. Data can also auto migrate from older tape formats to new formats within a tier. Take LTO tape as an example; you can upgrade your LTO-5 drives to LTO-7 drives and auto migrate data in this tier from LTO-5 media to LTO-7 media. In  doing so, you will get the benefits of an easier conversion with a big jump in per cartridge capacity from 1.5 TB to 6.0 TB, a much faster transfer rate going from 140 MB/sec to 300 MB/sec, thus reducing the amount of drives and robotic library slots required, and giving you more room to grow.

The ability to migrate is key to keeping up with relentless data growth for the long term. That is why having a reliable technology roadmap is so important. The LTO roadmap has been extended from eight generations to ten generations. Currently, the newest generation in the market is LTO-7 with a native capacity of 6.0 TB. Generation 9 and 10 have been added to the LTO roadmap where we can expect native capacity in generation 10 to rise to an impressive 48 TB, eight times greater than LTO-7, with an impressive native transfer rate of 1,100 MB/sec.  These new generations will provide the ability for ongoing migration necessary to keep up with data growth and will ensure backwards compatibility with the two previous LTO generations as usual. No other data recording technologies can present a roadmap that has this much capability to look forward and plan for comprehensive data archiving.

LTO Roadmap

Is generation 10 the end of the roadmap? Not likely, as IBM and Fujifilm announced back in April of 2015 the achievement of a new record of 123 billion bits per square inch in areal data density on linear magnetic tape using Barium Ferrite particle technology. This equates to a standard LTO cartridge capable of storing 220 TB of uncompressed data, 36 times greater than LTO-7 capacity! Given this achievement, the new LTO roadmap should be easily achieved and extended beyond generation 10.

This is good news for your migration strategy and long term, cost-effective active archiving!