Storing the next 30 years

Storing the next 30 years

One of the many challenges corporations face is retrieving data from older storage technology mediums, according to SpectrumData CEO, Craig Tamlin. A veteran of the storage industry, Tamlin has spent 20 years in various senior management roles and published four books focused on backup recovery and storage management. He spoke to ARN about some of the trends and challenges in data recovery

What is SpectrumData focusing on this year?

We are forming partnerships with resellers and companies manufacturing new [storage] solutions. That includes vendors with new tape drive and backup software technologies. They are the ones that are providing a benefit for clients in terms of faster and high storage mechanisms, but they are also creating a legacy of older equipment and data format. What we are focusing on is taking the archived legacy data from clients, converting it to their current format and making it available in some way so they can get access to data when it is needed.

What trends are you seeing in the data recovery market?

A lot of people are focused on portable hard drives as a new storage medium. Tape is a very low-cost storage medium for data, has been around for nearly 60 years, and offers very large capacity and high performance. We are getting a lot of enquiries around output to portable hard drives, whether it be a simple USB attached device or something like a disk device that emulates tape.

We're also seeing a lot of consolidation of tape technologies today. A few years ago there were about 25 different tape drives in the market, but many companies are getting out of the market. The company I left, Quantum, has decided not to develop any more digital linear tape [DLT] technology, which has been the cornerstone for mid-range backup for the last 10 years. There is no next generation for that and LTO [linear tape-open] has clearly stolen the leadership position in the mid-range market. We do not see a lot of the propriety enterprise tape drive technologies, like Sun's StorageTek, around any more. It is more oriented around mainframe clients.

Another format with prominence because it is legislated by the Australian Government is the IBM 3592 format, which is used in the oil and gas industry. From a backup software perspective we are also seeing some degree of vendor consolidation.

There is no question that oil and gas has been our heritage and with the price of oil exceeding $US100 a barrel all the oil companies are out there wanting every last speck of data on the oceans of the world so they can keep drilling. That is still going to be a very strong focal point for SpectrumData, but what we are looking at is any client that has any legacy data. Due to current compliance laws, most organisations need to have a way to access that data and a regulatory mandate to keep data for at least seven years.

Is adhering to government legislations a big driver in the storage market?

It is a very big driver. Clients are moving forward and deploying new storage technology yet they have to keep data for seven years. Many don't want to run the old infrastructure any longer, because it means costs in terms of people and skills. It also costs money to maintain old equipment and often vendors no longer have spares parts. Our company has been around for many years and we have tape technology that dates back to the 1970s. We have a living museum of technology, operators who can use them and an IT department that can repair them, so if we get any data retrieval requests we can convert that to a current format.

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