“It [tape] is a media we have all loved to hate over the years,” IDS-G’s Hackwill said. “It has been a necessary evil because there has been no other option. But deduplication technology is offering another option where we can be storing many terabytes of data on a much smaller disk footprint than we could on a tape footprint.”
Fujitsu’s national sales manager products, Julian Badell, agreed and added deduplication was marking the beginning of the end of tape for some customers.
“A lot of customers are very keen to move off what they consider a dated media,” he said. “And really the cost of storage is helping make it more accessible. But the significant gains we get from deduplication in saving the physical storage we need is really making the entry point very close if no equivalent to tape.”
A good example can be found in one of Hitachi’s Melbourne-based enterprise customers, which has gone for a completely disk-based storage infrastructure. But not everyone thinks tape has lost its place.
“There are a lot of comments being made that because we are putting more data online we don’t need tape technology,” Sun’s Stavridis said. “Data deduplication is obviously allowing us to put more data on disk which means we can put less data on tape. But I think it is important to really look at that and understand that disk hasn’t replaced tape completely; far from it in fact. Tape has found its place in the datacentre and that is in long-term archives.”
Yet, whatever your position on the future of tape, the uptake of deduplication and disk has some implications for the older technology.
“If you don’t have tape in your environment or you want to reduce it as much as possible you need to backup to some target device, probably at your local site and then replicate that to another site,” EMC’s Moore said.
“So now you have two copies. In the past we have had solutions like virtual tape where people backup to virtual tape and then backup from one site to another. But that is the whole backup. With dedupe only the truly unique elements get replicated from one site to another. That has huge implications for having that offsite copy of your data and the replication of your backup.”